The U.S. Mint replaced the Buffalo Nickel design with a new design in 1938, the Jefferson Nickel. The Jefferson Nickel has been produced ever since, and is still in production today. While many would assume that these coins have no collectable value, some of them can be quite valuable based on type, year and condition. The 1942 edition was the first of what were referred to as “War nickels” and contain 35 percent silver.
For a coin collector, a Jefferson Nickel may only be worth obtaining if it is in excellent condition. Not only are coins in great condition more valuable, they are more beautiful to look at.
For coins that have been around for any period of time, you have to take a good, hard look at the coin’s condition. While these coins may have some collectability value even if in poor condition, collectors most often want coins that are in excellent overall condition. Finding such coins can be challenging, however, as many of them have been used in circulation over the years.
When you are looking at a coin’s condition, you are really trying to determine how that coin may be graded. While a coin’s actual grade must be assigned by a recognized grading company, you can use the guidelines below to get a good idea of what a graded Jefferson Nickel may look like according to grade.
Uncirculated: Collectors are often trying to get their hands on coins in this condition. These coins were never used in circulation, and therefore have maintained much of their original condition throughout the years. Looking at coins in this condition, you may even assume that they were just minted that same day.
Extremely Fine: Just below uncirculated grade, extremely fine coins are also coveted by coin collectors. Coins given this grade may have very minor wear and tear or surface damage and will appear to be in near-pristine condition. Only under close examination might you see the coin’s imperfections.
Fine: Coins that have been assigned a grade of fine have often been circulated for many years. These coins will display surface damage, including scratches and or dents. The integrity of the coin’s images and engravings usually remains intact, however.
Good: Good is the grade assigned to the majority of Jefferson Nickels on the open market today. These coins have been widely used in circulation for some time, and show their age. Scratches, surface damage and blemishes are likely present. Coin collectors often steer clear of these coins in favor of coins in better condition. Coins graded good may still be valuable, however, based on type, mint year and relative scarcity.
To get an idea of the price of a nickel, you must first determine the type of nickel being examined. The 1942 mint year produced several types, and values can vary significantly. In addition to the coin type, the coin’s condition will be a key consideration in its value. Coins are superior condition will most often retain more value than similar coins in lesser overall condition. In addition, “War nickels” contained a small amount of silver, thus adding to their overall value. The chart below will help you get a good idea of what you might expect to pay for various types and grades of Jefferson Nickels.
1942 Jefferson Nickel
|1942 Jefferson Nickel||N/A||N/A||$0.45||$1.25|
|1942 Jefferson Nickel (D)||N/A||N/A||$2||$5|
|1942 Jefferson Nickel (P)||N/A||N/A||$2.50||$3.25|
|1942 Jefferson Nickel (S)||N/A||N/A||$2.50||$3.25||Source: Red Book|