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United States Nickels

Nickels, as five-cent coins are commonly known in the United States, were first issued in 1866. Before then, this denomination was filled by the half dime. Half dimes were the first coins produced under federal legislation by the U.S. Mint and were made out of silver. With the introduction of the shield design in 1866, the five-cent coin was redesigned to use a copper-nickel alloy instead of silver, which gave rise to the term nickel for the denomination.

Shield nickels were very unpopular due their design, which many considered ugly, as well as their low quality. The next nickel to be issued was the Liberty head, colloquially known as the V nickel due to the prominent Roman numeral on the reverse of the coin. The Liberty head was designed by Charles Barber, a notable chief engraver who was responsible for several other public issue coin designs and commemorative issues. The Liberty head run features perhaps the rarest of all nickels: the 1913 nickel. Only five 1913 Liberty heads were ever made, and it remains unknown today how they came to exist since the run was canceled in 1912. Two of the five are displayed in the Smithsonian's national collection, while the other three are owned privately.

The next nickel was the buffalo design, which ran from 1913 to 1938. While it was nominally well received, the buffalo design proved to age poorly, with the date on the coin often wearing off completely. Today's Jefferson nickel was introduced in 1938. The Jefferson nickel was unchanged until 2004 to 2005, at which point two commemorative circulating reverse designs were issued: one for the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the other for the Louisiana Purchase. In 2006, the obverse of the coin was changed. Although it still features Thomas Jefferson, his head is now facing forward instead of to the side.


Quick Facts

  • According to legend, the silver used to create the first half dimes came from George Washington's home silverware
  • A 1913 Liberty head nickel sold at auction for $3.7 million in 2010. A different specimen was also the first ever coin to break the $1 million sale barrier in 1996
  • War nickels issued from 1942 to 1945 did not have any nickel content. Rather, they were an alloy of silver and copper, as nickel was a valuable war resource for armor plating on tanks and other vehicles

Recommended Items at Auction

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1905 Liberty Nickel. NGC PF68
Oct 07, 8:00 AM CST
1905 Liberty Nickel. NGC PF68
by Phoenix Integrity Auction
Est: $0- $0
$1,30017 Bids
Liberty Nickel Shotgun Roll in Old Bank Style Wrapper 1906 & p Mint Ends
Oct 03, 11:00 AM EDT
Liberty Nickel Shotgun Roll in Old Bank Style Wrapper 1906 & p Mint Ends
by Key Date Coins
Est: $112- $225
$32510 Bids
1950-D Jefferson Nickel - NGC MS66 5FS - ULTRA RARE HIGH GRADE!!!
Oct 03, 5:00 PM EDT
1950-D Jefferson Nickel - NGC MS66 5FS - ULTRA RARE HIGH GRADE!!!
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$559 Bids
1866 Shield Nickel with Rays 5C - Certified PCGS Uncirculated Details (UNC MS)
Oct 07, 8:00 AM CST
1866 Shield Nickel with Rays 5C - Certified PCGS Uncirculated Details (UNC MS)
by Phoenix Integrity Auction
Est: $0- $0
$457 Bids
Liberty Nickel Shotgun Roll in Old Bank Style Wrapper 1883 & p Mint Ends
Oct 03, 11:00 AM EDT
Liberty Nickel Shotgun Roll in Old Bank Style Wrapper 1883 & p Mint Ends
by Key Date Coins
Est: $112- $225
$4006 Bids
1914-S Buffalo Head Nickels - Better Date
Oct 03, 5:00 PM EDT
1914-S Buffalo Head Nickels - Better Date
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$226 Bids
1912 S Liberty Head Nickel -- PCGS MS 65
Oct 13, 5:30 PM EDT
1912 S Liberty Head Nickel -- PCGS MS 65
by Redding Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$5105 Bids
1885 Liberty Nickel Silver Coin
Oct 07, 8:00 AM CST
1885 Liberty Nickel Silver Coin
by Phoenix Integrity Auction
Est: $0- $0
$2755 Bids
1877 Shield Nickel. PCGS PF66
Oct 07, 8:00 AM CST
1877 Shield Nickel. PCGS PF66
by Phoenix Integrity Auction
Est: $0- $0
$604 Bids
1943 P, D&S War Nickels
Oct 04, 5:00 PM EDT
1943 P, D&S War Nickels
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$43 Bids
PCGS 1938-d Buffalo Nickel OGH 5c Graded ms65 By PCGS
Oct 03, 11:00 AM EDT
PCGS 1938-d Buffalo Nickel OGH 5c Graded ms65 By PCGS
by Key Date Coins
Est: $50- $100
$303 Bids
Buffalo Nickel Shotgun Roll in Old Bank Style 'Bell Telephone' Wrapper 1920 &s Mint Ends
Oct 03, 11:00 AM EDT
Buffalo Nickel Shotgun Roll in Old Bank Style 'Bell Telephone' Wrapper 1920 &s Mint Ends
by Key Date Coins
Est: $112- $225
$353 Bids
1943-S Jefferson Wartime Silver Nickel - Nice Circ!
Oct 03, 5:00 PM EDT
1943-S Jefferson Wartime Silver Nickel - Nice Circ!
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$33 Bids
1937 D 3 Leg Buffalo Nickel – PCGS MS 62
Oct 13, 5:30 PM EDT
1937 D 3 Leg Buffalo Nickel – PCGS MS 62
by Redding Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$522 Bids
1927-S Buffalo Nickel 5C Coin - PCGS Uncirculated Details (UNC MS) - Rare Date!
Oct 07, 8:00 AM CST
1927-S Buffalo Nickel 5C Coin - PCGS Uncirculated Details (UNC MS) - Rare Date!
by Phoenix Integrity Auction
Est: $0- $0
$152 Bids
1923-S 5c ANACS MS63 - Better Date S-Mint - Buffalo Nickel - Better Date S-Mint
Oct 07, 8:00 AM CST
1923-S 5c ANACS MS63 - Better Date S-Mint - Buffalo Nickel - Better Date S-Mint
by Phoenix Integrity Auction
Est: $0- $0
$102 Bids
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1857(P) MINT COPPER-NICKEL FLYING EAGLE CENT VF
Oct 08, 2:00 PM EDT
1857(P) MINT COPPER-NICKEL FLYING EAGLE CENT VF
by Florida Estate Sales Inc.
Est: $50- $10,000
$122 Bids
1913 Buffalo Nickel. Type 2. NGC MS66
Oct 07, 8:00 AM CST
1913 Buffalo Nickel. Type 2. NGC MS66
by Phoenix Integrity Auction
Est: $0- $0
$202 Bids
1937-D Buffalo Nickel. 3 legs
Oct 07, 8:00 AM CST
1937-D Buffalo Nickel. 3 legs
by Phoenix Integrity Auction
Est: $0- $0
$302 Bids
(2) COMPLETE JEFFERSON NICKEL ALBUMS
Oct 05, 12:00 PM EDT
(2) COMPLETE JEFFERSON NICKEL ALBUMS
by R Howard Collectibles
Est: $125- $150
$52 Bids
1924-D Buffalo Head Indian Nickel - Nice Strike!
Oct 03, 5:00 PM EDT
1924-D Buffalo Head Indian Nickel - Nice Strike!
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$132 Bids
1917-S 5c NGC MS62 (OH) Nice Color - Buffalo Nickel - Nice Color
Oct 07, 8:00 AM CST
1917-S 5c NGC MS62 (OH) Nice Color - Buffalo Nickel - Nice Color
by Phoenix Integrity Auction
Est: $0- $0
$202 Bids
Buffalo Nickel Shotgun Roll in Old Bank Style 'Bell Telephone' Wrapper 1926 & d Mint Ends
Oct 03, 11:00 AM EDT
Buffalo Nickel Shotgun Roll in Old Bank Style 'Bell Telephone' Wrapper 1926 & d Mint Ends
by Key Date Coins
Est: $112- $225
$252 Bids
Partial Buffalo 5c Whitman folder 1913-1938, 56 coins.
Oct 03, 11:00 AM EDT
Partial Buffalo 5c Whitman folder 1913-1938, 56 coins.
by Key Date Coins
Est: $50- $100
$302 Bids

Sellers Who Sell United States Nickels


Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Key Date Coins

Key Date Coins

Silver City Auctions

Silver City Auctions