Beginning in 1938, the US Mint decided to pursue an altogether new design of their now popular 5-cent piece. The Jefferson Nickel was the next coin produced, and is one that is still being produced today. Now you may not think that these coins have any collector value, but when it comes to early editions such as the one from 1938, you couldn’t be any more wrong.
For collectors, the only way a Jefferson Nickel is really worth the effort of attaining is if it is in great condition. These are not only the coins that are worth the most, they are the most attractive as well.
For coins as old as the 1938 Jefferson Nickel, you really have to look at the condition the coin is in. These coins have collector value regardless of condition, but it is only the coins that are in pristine condition that are desired by collectors. Finding these well-preserved coins is not such an easy task when you consider how long ago they were minted.
When you are judging the condition of a coin, you are really giving the coin a grade. Though grading is performed most often by a professional company, you can use the specifications below to gain a better idea as to what a graded Jefferson Nickel might look like.
Uncirculated: This is the type of graded Jefferson Nickel that every collector is trying to get their hands on. These coins, by nature, were never sent onto the open market to exchange hands and, as such, did not incur much of any damage during their lifetime. Just one look at these coins and you will think that it was minted last week, not nearly 100 years ago.
Extremely Fine: Extremely Fine Jefferson Nickels are also a prized catch for collectors, but these coins will show some light damage. To be given this grade, the coin in question will have very minimal scratching and will appear mostly pristine. It is only under close inspection that you can see the coin’s imperfections.
Fine: Coin’s given this grade are those that have been circulated for an extended period of time. These coins will show plenty of scratching, but not so much so that the integrity of the inscriptions or imagery is compromised.
Good: This is the grade given to most Jefferson Nickels on the market today. These coins will have been fairly heavily circulated and will play host to a lot of scratching and other blemishes. For collectors, these coins are often overlooked in lieu of pieces that have been better-preserved. Still, because the coin is so old and is the first of its kind, the 1938 edition is a bit more attractive than later year coins in similar condition.
To give the 1938 Jefferson Nickel an accurate price, you must first look at its type. Three different types of this nickel were produced in 1938, so the type of the coin will be first thing playing into how much you are going to pay. Secondly, the condition means everything to most collectors. Those coins that are better preserved often sell for much more than those that aren’t. The chart below will help you gain a good idea as to how much you might be paying for a Jefferson Nickel given its grade and type.
1938 Jefferson Nickel
|1938 Jefferson Nickel||N/A||N/A||$1||$1.50|
|1938 Jefferson Nickel (D)||N/A||N/A||$2||$3|
|1938 Jefferson Nickel (S)||N/A||N/A||$3||$3.50||Source: Red Book|