February 24, 2024
Discover what years of nickels can be worth money and how to identify them. From buffalo nickels to wartime "War Nickels", this comprehensive guide explores the top valuable nickel years that can be quite valuable. Whether you're an enthusiast or simply curious, find out how to identify valuable nickels, explore the history and worth of the buffalo nickel, make money from coins, and much more.


Have you ever wondered if the loose change in your pocket can actually be worth something? Look no further than your nickel collection! While nickels may seem like just another small denomination, certain years can actually be quite valuable. In this article, we will explore what years of nickels are worth money and how to identify them. Whether you’re a coin collector or just curious, read on to discover the hidden value of your nickels.

The most valuable years of the nickel: A comprehensive guide

Many collectors and enthusiasts consider the value of a nickel based on its year. Certain years of nickels are rarer than others and, as a result, worth more. Generally, the oldest and rarest nickels are the most valuable. Here is a list of the top valuable nickel years:

  • 1913 (with Liberty Head)
  • 1918/17-D (with buffalo)
  • 1936-D (with buffalo)
  • 1950-D (with Jefferson)
  • 1951-S (with Jefferson)

What makes these years more valuable? In some cases, it’s simply due to their rarity – these years had a lower mintage (amount produced) than other years. For example, the 1913 Liberty Head nickel was only minted in limited quantities because it was originally supposed to feature the new buffalo design that year. In other cases, it’s due to a unique error or variation that occurred during the minting process. The 1918/17-D buffalo nickel, for example, features an overdate error where the ‘8’ was stamped over the ‘7’ on the die, resulting in a much rarer coin.

Do you have a rare nickel in your pocket? Here’s how to find out

While some valuable nickels are very rare and difficult to find, others may still be in circulation. Here are some tips for identifying valuable nickels based on their year:

  • Check the date – as we’ve already discussed, certain years are more valuable than others
  • Look for different designs – between 1913 and 1938, nickels featured a buffalo design. After that, the design changed to feature Thomas Jefferson
  • Look for errors or variations – as we saw with the 1918/17-D buffalo nickel, errors and variations can greatly impact value
  • Check the lettering on the coin – certain variations or errors in the lettering, such as missing or doubled letters, can increase value

To identify a rare nickel, you may also want to use online resources to help you. Websites such as the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) offer information on rare and valuable coins, as well as grading and authentication services. You can also use coin collecting apps like NGC Coin Details or PCGS Photograde to identify and grade your coins.

Exploring the history and worth of the buffalo nickel

The buffalo nickel, officially known as the Indian Head nickel, was minted between 1913 and 1938. The design features the profile of a Native American on the obverse side and an American bison (or buffalo) on the reverse. While all buffalo nickels are popular among collectors, certain years are more valuable than others. The most valuable buffalo nickels include:

  • 1913
  • 1914-D
  • 1915-S
  • 1921-S
  • 1937-D

Why are these years more valuable? Some, like the 1913 buffalo nickel, are considered valuable due to their rarity – less than 2 million were produced. Others, like the 1914-D buffalo nickel, are valuable because of unique die variations or minting errors. Additionally, certain buffalo nickels minted during the Great Depression were not circulated and were instead kept as collector items. These “proof” or “mint state” buffalo nickels can also be quite valuable.

Nickels worth more than a nickel: A look at the most valuable years

While the buffalo nickel and famous dates like 1913 Liberty Head nickel are the most well-known valuable nickels, there are actually many other years and variations worth significant amounts. Here are some additional valuable nickel years:

  • 1939-D
  • 1942-P “double die”
  • 1943-P, 1943-D, and 1943-S “steel cents”
  • 1945-P “double die”
  • 1953-S “double die”

What makes these years valuable? The 1942 “double die” nickel, for example, has an error where the “1942” date was stamped on the die twice, creating a noticeable “ghosting” effect on the final product. The 1943 steel cents were produced during World War II when copper was needed for the war effort and were only produced for a short amount of time. As a result, they are a rare and valuable collectible. Many of the other coins on this list have similar variations, such as a doubled date or lettering, that make them more valuable and sought after by collectors.

From wartime to the West, the rarest nickels in circulation

While many valuable nickels are rare due to specific errors or dates, others are rare because of the historical context surrounding their production. Some valuable nickels related to major American events or regions include:

  • 1942-1945 “War Nickels” – nickels produced during World War II that contained 35% silver instead of the usual copper and nickel alloy
  • 1938-D “Three-Legged Buffalo” – a die wore down during production, causing the buffalo to lose a leg
  • 2005 “Ocean in View” – a commemorative nickel celebrating the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition

Why are these nickels rare and valuable? The “War Nickels” were produced during a time when resources were scarce and, as a result, are rare. The 1938-D “Three-Legged Buffalo” was produced due to a die error and was quickly corrected, so there are few in circulation. The 2005 commemorative nickel was only produced for a limited time and was minted in lower quantities, making it a rare and valuable coin.

How to make money from coins: The top nickel years collectors are searching for

Finally, let’s talk about the value of collectible coins. While many people keep coin collections as a hobby or for sentimental value, some coins can actually be quite valuable to collectors. Here are some of the top nickel years that collectors are searching for:

  • 1913-D “Buffalo”
  • 1914-S “Buffalo”
  • 1916 “Buffalo”
  • 1918/17-S “Buffalo”
  • 1937-D Three-Legged “Buffalo”

Collectors are interested in these rare nickels for many of the same reasons we’ve discussed throughout this article – rarity, unique errors/variations, and historical context. If you have any of these nickels in your collection, or any of the other valuable years we’ve discussed, you may be able to sell them to collectors for a significant amount of money. Just be sure to have them authenticated and graded first!


Whether you’re a collector, a curious coin enthusiast, or just someone who wants to check if they have any valuable nickels in their change jar, learning about the different rare and valuable years of nickels can be a fun and rewarding experience. From buffalo nickels to commemorative coins, there are many different years and variations that can be quite valuable. Just be sure to do your research and use trusted resources to verify the authenticity and grading of your coins.

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