How Much is a 1939 Nickel Worth?

The production of the Jefferson nickel started in 1938 as a replacement for the Buffalo nickels. With that, the series joined Shield, Liberty Head, and Buffalo as one of the four minted US nickels. Even though The US Mint struck it in large amounts, the 1939 Nickel can still fetch surprising values, especially if it’s a rare type.

We will cover how much the 1939 nickel is worth, its history, and its various types, including the right places to sell or buy it.

The 1939 Nickel

1939 Nickel

As part of the Jefferson series, the 1939 nickel is quite popular among coin collectors. Firstly because it belongs to the more valuable part of the series and also due to having rare types. Yes, contrary to some beliefs, the 1939 Jefferson nickel has some types that can fetch impressive prices in the right places.

We can put the general features of this nickel into two categories which are the obverse and reverse sides.

Obverse

  • Jefferson’s profile is at the center of the coin, the profile faces left.
  • ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ struck along the left side.
  • On the right side of the profile, you can see the word ‘LIBERTY’ and the year of production – 1939. A star separates them.

Reverse

  • Jefferson’s famous residence the Monticello sits at the center with its name engraved under it.
  • The words ‘E PLURIBUS UNUM’ is engraved across the top of the coin. It means ‘One from Many.’
  • At the bottom of the coin, you will find the ‘United States of America.’
  • Finally, the coin’s face value is written in words at the bottom of Monticello, between the residence name and the country name.

Types of The 1939 Nickel

Three Mints were responsible for striking the 1939 Jefferson Nickel, namely the Philadelphia, San Fransisco, and Denver Mints.

Philadelphia Mint

1939 Jefferson Nickels Philadelphia Mint

The Philadelphia mint struck the highest amount of the 1939 nickels with about 120 million in total. With this amount of struck nickels, their value remains the lowest among the 1939 nickels. However, the proof coins struck at this mint have the highest value as they remain very rare today.

1939 nickels from the Philadelphia mint do not have any letter signifying their mint. Therefore, to know if a coin comes from this mint, check the reverse side of the nickel, the absence of a letter on the right side shows it is from the Philadelphia mint.

According to the records, the Philadelphia mint only struck about 12,000 1939 proof coins.

San Fransisco Mint

1939 S Jefferson Nickels

The total number of 1939 nickels struck at the San Fransisco mint sits at around 6.6 million. This makes them more valuable compared to those from the Philadelphia mint. Fortunately, they are easy to differentiate.

1939 nickels struck at the San Fransisco mint has the letter ‘s’ on the right hand of the nickel’s reverse side.

Denver Mint

1939 D Jefferson Nickels

With about 3.5 million total 1939 nickels, the Denver mint struck the lowest amount of the mints. As such, 1939 nickels struck at this facility have the second-highest value after the Philadelphia proof coins.

To know whether your nickel was struck at the Denver mint, check the reserve side. If you see a ‘D’ on the right side of the Monticello profile, you have got yourself a Denver struck 1939 nickel.

How Rare is the 1939 Nickel?

The rarity of the 1939 nickel largely depends on the type in question. You can directly connect the availability of the nickels to the amount struck by the different mints. With the Philadelphia mint’s total of 120 million, one would naturally expect this type to be quite common to acquire.

On the other hand, 1939 nickels struck by the San Fransisco mint totaled 6.6 million, making them less common than the aforementioned type.

In the same vein, Denver mint struck a total of 3,514,000 1939 nickels. This makes it by far the rarest of the struck 1939 nickels, apart from proof coins. Naturally, 1939 Jefferson nickels that carry the ‘D’ have more value because of their rarity.

Furthermore, according to Something Borrowed,  the Philadelphia mint struck 12,535 Jefferson nickel proofs in 1939. Compared to the others that had millions in circulation, these proof coins have the highest values because of their rarity.

However, error coins of this denomination have the most rarity and can fetch good prices at auctions.

How Much is My 1939 Nickel Worth?

We already established the fact that 1939 nickel value directly depends on the type because of availability. The significant disparity between the total number of nickels struck in 1939 by the different mints influenced their value.

However, we have got some other factors that determine the value you can get for your 1939 Jefferson nickel.

Factors That Influence The 1939 Nickel Value

Rarity

It is only normal that the lower the availability of a coin, the more valuable it becomes. Simply put, the rarer your coin, the higher its value.

Grade

A coin’s grade basically means its condition. However, it goes beyond that because six criteria play the most important role in grading a coin. They are:

  • Attractiveness
  • Colour
  • Luster
  • Preservation
  • Strike
  • State/Country

While there are more intricate degrees of coin grading, we will simplify it into four categories:

  • Good Condition: If your 1939 nickel is in good condition, that means it shows signs of heavy damage and deep scratches. You will also see wear and fading easily visible to the naked eye.
  • Fine Condition:This grade means that the nickel has fewer scratches and damage but nothing that seriously compromises engravings and profiles. You can still observe the damage with your naked eye but not as easily as that of a coin in good condition.
  • Extremely Fine Condition:This condition signifies that the coin is as well-preserved as it can be while in circulation. You can find discoloration and mild wear on it and sometimes, a naked eye would find it challenging to make out damages to the coin.
  • Uncirculated condition:A 1939 Jefferson nickel in uncirculated condition has been perfectly preserved. The reason is that uncirculated coins have never been spent and as such, still retain their appearance as brand new even on closer inspection. Coins in this condition fetch higher prices than the other grades.

1939 S-Nickel Value

A San Fransisco mint (no mint) 1939 Jefferson nickel in uncirculated condition sold for $15. On the other hand, one with an MS65 grade sold for as much as $69.95 while another went for $200 at an MS67 grade. While listings depend on the seller’s discretion, the coin grade could sometimes attract higher bids.

For a 1939 Jefferson nickel of the same mint mark, sale prices can be around $1.79 on eBay.

1939 No Mint Value

Coins with no mint mark were struck at the Philadelphia mint and they are the most common of the 1939 nickels. Although this availability affects their value, some still fetch good prices on platforms like eBay.

For example, a 1939 Jefferson nickel with an MS-60 (mint state 60) grade sold for $4.08. Another in extremely fine condition went for as much as $72.15. It is important to note that your coin will not always fetch its face value. It can sell even higher, especially on online platforms.

1939 D-Mint Value

As the second rarest of them all, the 1939 D-Mint Jefferson nickel has the second-highest value. A coin in good condition sold for as much as $6.99 on eBay with some others listing at around $5.99. Another in AU (About Minted) condition sold for $25 on eBay too.

One in extremely fine condition was sold for $8.95 while a 1939 D-Mint Jefferson nickel with MS-65 sold for $90. Since valuable Jefferson nickels are not common, they tend to fetch higher prices regardless of where you choose to sell them.

1939 Proof Jefferson Nickel Value

With only about 12,500 total struck coins, these are the rarest of the 1939 Jefferson nickel. As such they are guaranteed to fetch the highest values, especially in extremely fine condition or better.

1939 Proof Jefferson Nickels in extremely fine condition have sold for as much as $185 on online platforms. Even with visible signs of wear and damage, one still sold for $50.

1939 Jefferson Error Nickels Value

While proof coins can prove difficult to come by, error coins can be even harder. The reason is that they are much rarer than proof coins and the errors are of different types.

1939 Double Monticello Dome Jefferson Nickel Value

This error occurs when a nickel a punched more than once, creating a double profile of the Monticello Dome on the coin’s reverse side. A 1939 Double Monticello Dome nickel can sell for as much as $30 in very fine condition.

One in uncirculated condition sold for as high as $500.

1939 Double Date Jefferson Nickel Value

The error for this coin shares the same cause as that of the Double Monticello Dome. It also attracts higher values than error-free 1939 Jefferson Nickels. In fact, its price sits around the same range as that of the Double Monticello.

Other errors also include:

Re-punched 1939 Jefferson Nickel: This occurs when the technician fails to make the correct punch on first strike and slightly misses the initial position on second strike. The result is double impression of the intended mark of profile.

Full Steps Jefferson Nickel: This error can occur in two types, namely 5 full steps, 4 complete lines, and 6 full steps, 5 complete lines.

Where to Sell Your 1939 Jefferson Nickel

If you want to sell your 1939 nickel, you have two main places to choose from and they are online platforms and offline interactions. The latter refers to selling to a local coin dealer, collector, or pawn shop. On the other hand, the former refers to putting your nickel up for sale on an appropriate online platform.

Platforms that can prove useful include Heritage Auctions, eBay, and Etsy. These websites have made it easy to list what you want to sell and let people either buy it or bid on it. However, to get the correct value for your 1939 nickel, you should have it graded and/or appraised.

Also, collectors generally believe that you can get more for your nickel online than at a pawn shop. Nevertheless, always choose whichever option feels safer and more comfortable for you.

Wrapping Up

The 1939 nickel is part of the Jefferson series and it replaced the Buffalo series in 1938. Although collectors find it easy to acquire this nickel, it has some types that can pose a challenge. Fortunately, these rare ones are also expensive Jefferson nickels, meaning they can fetch wonderful prices for anyone who has one.

Even though experts attach a value to these nickels, bids can reach high amounts for valuable and rare 1939 Jefferson nickels.

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