Never judge a book by its cover or a coin by its face value.
Some coins gain and retain significant value over time, and collectors pay a premium for some coveted pieces.
These nickels have been auctioned for at least $250,000
Because of mistakes, minor minting, or age, many American coins have become worth more than their face value means.
This includes many extremely rare nickels that can sell for thousands or even millions, although technically they’re only worth five cents.
President Thomas Jefferson has been depicted on nickel since 1938, but according to data from the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), no dime bearing his likeness has ever sold for more than $50,000.
Some of the most valuable nickels came from the Buffalo series, which featured the animal on the reverse, or tail, side of the coin from 1913 to 1938.
However, to find the most expensive nickel mine ever discovered, you have to look a little further back in American history.
1. 1913 Liberty Head Nickel – $4,560,000
The 1913 Liberty Head Nickel was the last nickel made with this design before the US Mint began using Buffalo coins
The 1913 Liberty Head Nickels are among the most well-known and coveted American coins out there.
When the US Mint transitioned from the Liberty Nickel series to Buffalo Nickel in 1913, a handful of the last Liberty coins were minted, with 1913 being the year of issue.
According to PCGS, there are only five known specimens of the coin.
Two are permanently in museum collections, including one in the Smithsonian, leaving only three for collectors.
In 2021, a collector made more than $13 million by selling a 1913 Liberty Head with an 1804 and 1894 dime.
According to PCGS, the highest single selling price of a 1913 Liberty Head nickel was $4.56 million for a proof coin at a 2018 auction.
2. 1918/17-D Nickel – $350,750
The year 1918 on this coin is slightly distorted, meaning it is indeed a rare misprint
There is an error in a small number of nickels made in Denver in 1918 that the US Mint has tried to hide.
If you look closely at the year on the face of the coin, you can see that the “8” in 1918 looked a bit distorted.
The top of the number is flat rather than rounded, and the center appears thicker than it should be.
This is because the mint accidentally struck the year 1917 and put the year 1918 on it.
About 7,000 of these coins still exist today, of which about 6,900 are in circulation.
David Hall, former PCGS President, wrote: “The 1918/7-D is certainly the rarest coin in the Buffalo nickel series and one of the most important coins of the 20th century.”
In a 2006 auction followed by the PCGS, one of these coins sold in mint condition for $350,750.
3. 1926-S Buffalo Nickel – $322,000
The small mark below the words “five cents” is an S, indicating the coin was minted in San Francisco.
In 1926, more than 50 million nickels were mined in the United States.
The vast majority – about 44 million – were quarried in Philadelphia, and another 5.6 million were made in Denver.
But only 970,000 nickels were made at the San Francisco Mint in 1926, and only 11,000 exist today, according to PCGS.
While Denver nickels have some value, exceeding $100 in circulation, the 1926-S nickel is a valuable cut-off date coin.
A 1926-S coin in mint condition sold for a record $322,000 at auction in 2008, and circulating variations of the coin can sell for as much as $5,000.
A seller on eBay recently made over $1,000 selling a 1926-S nickel.
4. 1916 Double Die Buffalo Nickel – $276,000
This coin has no mint indicating where it was struck, but it was minted at the Philadelphia Minto
Like the 1918 nickel, the 1916 Buffalo nickel has errors in some shapes.
While the 1918 piece initially had the wrong year stamp, the 1916 nickel had the correct year stamp but was stamped in two places.
Coin dies – pieces of metal used to print symbols on coins – are usually struck multiple times onto the coins to insert an image or text.
Due to misaligned dies, the letters, numbers and images on some coins appear as if they were struck twice in slightly different places.
These double-stamp errors make coins very valuable, since only a small number of coins are usually affected when the error occurs.
According to PCGS, more than 15,000 1916 nickels mined in Philadelphia still exist, but only 400 have double-stamp errors.
Even in bad condition, these coins are worth at least $2,000 and can sell for more than $50,000 in working order.
Uncirculated variations of nickel sell for hundreds of thousands, including a record $276,000 sale in 2008 for a 1926 double-stamp coin in mint condition.
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