Loading Spinner

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

See all items

1913-D Type 2 Buffalo Head Indian Nickel - Better Date!
Jun 17, 5:00 PM EDT
1913-D Type 2 Buffalo Head Indian Nickel - Better Date!
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$7516 Bids
bp parity badge
LOT OF 500 2006-D UNCIRCULATED JEFFERSON NICKELS
Jun 23, 9:00 AM MST
LOT OF 500 2006-D UNCIRCULATED JEFFERSON NICKELS
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$12012 Bids
bp parity badge
LOT OF 73 ASSORTED BUFFALO NICKELS WITH KEY DATES
Jun 23, 9:00 AM MST
LOT OF 73 ASSORTED BUFFALO NICKELS WITH KEY DATES
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$8511 Bids
bp parity badge
LOT OF 273 ASSORTED LIBERTY HEAD V NICKELS
Jun 23, 9:00 AM MST
LOT OF 273 ASSORTED LIBERTY HEAD V NICKELS
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$16011 Bids
bp parity badge
LOT OF 500 ASSORTED UNSEARCHED SILVER WARTIME NICKELS
Jun 23, 9:00 AM MST
LOT OF 500 ASSORTED UNSEARCHED SILVER WARTIME NICKELS
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$4407 Bids
bp parity badge
LOT OF 1000+ ASSORTED UNSEARCHED BUFFALO NICKELS
Jun 23, 9:00 AM MST
LOT OF 1000+ ASSORTED UNSEARCHED BUFFALO NICKELS
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$3206 Bids
1872 Three Cent Nickel. Much better date.
Jun 17, 5:00 PM EDT
1872 Three Cent Nickel. Much better date.
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$54 Bids
71 Liberty Head V Nickels 1881-1912
Jun 23, 6:00 PM EDT
71 Liberty Head V Nickels 1881-1912
by Caswell Prewitt Realty, INC
Est: $0- $0
$454 Bids
1944-S Jefferson Nickel - NGC MS66
Jun 15, 7:00 PM EDT
1944-S Jefferson Nickel - NGC MS66
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$94 Bids
1939-1961 Jefferson Nickel Collection in Whitman Album (FULL)
Jun 15, 7:00 PM EDT
1939-1961 Jefferson Nickel Collection in Whitman Album (FULL)
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$223 Bids
1888 Liberty Head V-Nickel **AU**
Jun 15, 7:00 PM EDT
1888 Liberty Head V-Nickel **AU**
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$43 Bids
1894 Liberty V Nickel
Jun 24, 5:00 PM EDT
1894 Liberty V Nickel
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$43 Bids
1943-P Jefferson Nickel - PCGS MS66
Jun 15, 7:00 PM EDT
1943-P Jefferson Nickel - PCGS MS66
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$73 Bids
JEFFERSON NICKELS
Jun 15, 10:00 AM EDT
JEFFERSON NICKELS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$502 Bids
lot of 500 nickels uncirculated in gov wrap & box 2005D
Jun 16, 6:30 PM EDT
lot of 500 nickels uncirculated in gov wrap & box 2005D
by A KLEINS AUCTION GALLERY LLC
Est: $75- $500
$252 Bids
500 nickels uncirculated mint in rolls & box 2005P
Jun 16, 6:30 PM EDT
500 nickels uncirculated mint in rolls & box 2005P
by A KLEINS AUCTION GALLERY LLC
Est: $75- $500
$252 Bids
1876 Shield Nickel. Very tough date with great detail.
Jun 17, 5:00 PM EDT
1876 Shield Nickel. Very tough date with great detail.
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$132 Bids
1938-1964 Jefferson Nickel Collection in Whitman Album (Almost Full)
Jun 15, 7:00 PM EDT
1938-1964 Jefferson Nickel Collection in Whitman Album (Almost Full)
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$32 Bids
18 Buffalo Nickels and Jefferson War Nickels 1914-1943
Jun 23, 6:00 PM EDT
18 Buffalo Nickels and Jefferson War Nickels 1914-1943
by Caswell Prewitt Realty, INC
Est: $0- $0
$152 Bids
1886 Nickel Three Cent ANACS PF53
Jul 11, 5:00 PM CDT
1886 Nickel Three Cent ANACS PF53
by Gold Standard Auctions
Est: $255- $10,000
$2501 Bid
5 WAR NICKLES HAS 33% SILVER IN THEM 4-1943 AND ONE 1944
Jun 15, 11:00 AM CDT
5 WAR NICKLES HAS 33% SILVER IN THEM 4-1943 AND ONE 1944
by Dees Auction Company,LLC
Est: $35- $65
$101 Bid
(F) 1838 ONE CENT PIECE, 1865 TWO CENT PIECE, 1869 5 CENT SHIELD NICKEL
Jun 16, 7:15 PM CDT
(F) 1838 ONE CENT PIECE, 1865 TWO CENT PIECE, 1869 5 CENT SHIELD NICKEL
by Auctions By Moldenhauer
Est: $150- $300
$101 Bid
Westward journey Buffalo nickels two rolls, Denver two rolls Philadelphia
Jun 15, 11:00 AM CDT
Westward journey Buffalo nickels two rolls, Denver two rolls Philadelphia
by Dees Auction Company,LLC
Est: $35- $65
$151 Bid
US mint P & D 2005 Two rolls Nickel view
Jun 15, 11:00 AM CDT
US mint P & D 2005 Two rolls Nickel view
by Dees Auction Company,LLC
Est: $35- $65
$101 Bid

Sellers Who Sell United States Nickels


Gold Standard Auctions

Gold Standard Auctions

McCurley Auction Company

McCurley Auction Company

Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Key Date Coins

Key Date Coins