1939 Nickel Value: How Much Is It Worth Today?
If you’re into collecting nickels, it’s normal to wonder about the 1939 nickel value, especially if 1939 is an important year for you. Fortunately, it’s possible to learn all about this coin online.
We are particularly good at providing this information; this post is a testament to that. In it, we’re going to explore the different varieties of the 1939 nickel, its history, its main features, and possible errors.
1939 Nickel Value Chart
|1939 No Mint Nickel (P) Value||$1||$1||$5||$28||$150||$5,500|
|1939 No Mint Doubled Monticello Nickel (P) Value||$140||$250||$375||$1,500||$2,900||_|
|1939 D Nickel Value||$10||$18||$35||$90||$200||_|
|1939 S Nickel Value||$6||$8||$14||$70||$285||_|
1939 No Mint Nickel (P) Value
1939 nickels are part of the Jefferson nickel series. This series succeeded the Indian Head/Buffalo nickel that was minted from 1913 to 1938. Jefferson nickels were first minted in 1938 and are still minted to date.
They get their name from the fact that they bear the image of the United States’ third president, Thomas Jefferson. This image is located on the coin’s obverse and features his bust facing left.
Around the bust, there are two inscriptions. One is located along the coin’s left rim while another is located along the right one. The former says “IN GOD WE TRUST” and runs from the bottom to the top.
The latter has the word “LIBERTY” and the date 1939. It runs from the top to the bottom and there’s a small star between the word and the date. This design was the work of an artist called Felix Schlag and was used until 2004.
In 2005, the mint used a design by Joe Fitzgerald. However, a design by Jamie Franki took its place in 2006 and it’s still used to date. Whatever the case, Felix Schlag was the one who created the original Jefferson nickel reverse design as well.
It was used from 1938 to 2003 and then again from 2006 to date. The 2004 design was the work of Norman Nemeth while the 2005 one was that of Jamie Frankie.
But today, we’re going to focus on the original design. This featured a centrally-placed image of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s mansion. Underneath it, the word “MONTICELLO” is written.
There are three other inscriptions on the design. “E PLURIBUS UNUM” appears along the top rim, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” appears along the bottom rim, and “FIVE CENTS” was just above that.
This design was on all the nickels minted in 1939. These coins were minted in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver. Philadelphia produced most of them. These were around 120.7 million pieces and none of them had a mint mark.
12,535 of these were proofs and the rest were regular-strike coins. Either way, these coins are divided into two varieties. The first is called the reverse of the 1938 variety. It has curved and weak step details on the Monticello building.
The second variety was created soon after the first to make these details sharper. This variety is called the reverse of the 1940 variety. Numismatic experts estimate that 40 million regular-strike 1939 no mint nickels in this variety still exist.
Of these, around 135,000 have a grade of MS60 or better. These mint-state coins usually cost $6 to $3,000 per piece. On the other hand, around 19 million regular-strike 1939 no mint nickels with the reverse of 1938 still exist.
It’s estimated that only 67,500 of these have a grade of MS60 or higher. These mint-state samples usually go for $5 to $1,200. However, Full Step versions of these varieties are rarer and more expensive.
These versions have five to six full steps running across the bottom of the Monticello building. Around 100,000 regular-strike 1939 no mint reverse of 1940 Full Step nickels exist and all of them have a grade of MS60 or higher.
These usually cost $10 to $23,500. However, there are only 40,000 similar samples in existence in the reverse of the 1938 variety and they cost $25 to $5,000.
Proofs for both varieties are even rarer and more expensive. 1938 reverse variety samples with a grade of PR60 and over cost from $32 to $17,500 per piece. After all, experts estimate that only 9,500 of these proofs still exist.
Cameo versions are scarcer and more expensive. For instance, a PR65 Cameo costs $633 while a regular one costs $165. On the other hand, proofs in the 1940 reverse variety cost $60 to $15,600 in grades PR60 and over.
After all, only 600 of them are estimated to still exist. Cameos are harder to find; only around 50 still exist. As such, a PR66CAM can sell for $3,290 while a PR67CAM can sell for $8,813.
1939 No Mint Doubled Monticello Nickel (P) Value
The two common varieties of the 1939 nickel are the reverse of the 1938 one and the reverse of 1940 one. These exist in all 1939 nickels irrespective of their origin and mint mark. However, there’s one variety that’s unique to the Philadelphia nickels.
This is the Doubled Monticello/Double Die Reverse (DDR) variety. As its name suggests, it shows a doubling in the elements of the Monticello building on the reverse. Other elements of the reverse side also show clear doubling.
These include the engravings “ MONTICELLO” and “FIVE CENTS”. Ultimately, there are possibly only 60,000 of these coins across all grades. Half of these are in circulated condition and only 17,000 have a grade of MS65 or higher.
Mint state samples in this variety cost $375 to $6,000. Full Step versions of the double Monticello variety are harder to find. After all, only 4,000 still exist with 1,400 having a grade of MS65 or higher.
These usually go for $500 to $23,500 per piece. Generally, 1939 doubled Monticello nickels are some of the most difficult Jefferson nickels to find. Others include the 1945 Double Die Reverse and the 1943 Double Die Obverse.
Keep in mind that all Jefferson nickels have the same shape and feel. They are round coins with a smooth plain edge and 21.21 mm diameter. Also, most of them weigh 5 grams and have a composition of 75% copper and 25% nickel.
The only Jefferson nickels without this composition are those minted from mid-1942 to 1945. These contained 56% copper, 9% manganese, and 35% silver. They were commonly called wartime nickels.
1939 D Nickel Value
The Denver mint produced approximately 3.5 million 1939 nickels. This was lower than the Philadelphia and San Francisco mintages. All of these were regular-strike coins and had a D mint mark.
This mark was located on the coin’s reverse side, to the right of the Monticello building, near the edge. These coins are still available today but the 1940 reverse variety is a little rarer than the 1938 reverse variety.
However, Full Step versions have almost the same rarity in both varieties. Expert estimates suggest that 11,000 of these exist in the 1938 reverse variety and around half have a grade of MS65 or higher.
On the other hand, around 10,000 of these exist in the 1940 reverse variety with around half having a grade of MS65 or higher. Both varieties usually cost $55 to $27,500 per piece.
For the 1939 D nickels that aren’t Full Step, around 685,000 of the 1940 reverse variety still exist while a million of the 1938 reverse variety samples exist. Even in mint state, around 115,000 of the former exist while 185,000 of the latter exist.
As such, mint state 1938 reverse samples cost $45 to $2,115 while similar 1940 reverse samples sell for $35 to $2,750.
1939 S Nickel Value
The San Francisco mint produced 6.63 million 1939 nickels. These were all regular-strike coins that had an S mint mark. This mark was located to the right of the Monticello building, near the coin’s edge.
Around 2.65 million of these coins still exist in the 1938 reverse variety and 665,000 of them exist in the 1940 reverse variety. 170,000 and 20,000 of these respectively are mint state samples.
While the former cost $22 to $850 per piece, the latter cost $14 to $1,350. Full Step versions cost more. This is because they are rarer. There are an estimated 20,000 pieces still existing in each variety, all of which are mint state.
The Full Step samples with 1938 reverse cost $60 to $5,750 while the ones with 1940 reverse cost $30 to $8,500.
1939 Nickel Grading
Grading 1939 nickels requires you to look at them keenly, paying special attention to certain areas. However, you will need some training to effectively do this. That’s why it’s best to hire professional graders whenever you come across something special.
Rare 1939 Nickel Error Lists
1939 Nickel Broadstruck
A broad strike error occurs when a planchet is struck outside a collar. This creates a coin that spreads out too much. This makes a coin more valuable. An NGC MS66 1939 nickel with this error can sell for over $500.
1939 Nickel Strikethrough
A strikethrough error occurs when a foreign object gets in between a die and planchet at the moment of striking. This makes the body stick to the resulting coin and even bear a part of the design.
An ungraded 1939 S nickel with this error on its reverse can sell for $15 on eBay.
1939 Nickel FAQ
How much is 1939 no mint mark nickel worth?
1939 no mint mark nickel usually costs $1 to $23,500. The exact price of such a coin depends on its type, variety, and the errors it has.
How many 1939 D nickels were made?
3,514,000 1939 D nickels were minted.
Do 1939 nickels have silver in them?
1939 nickels don’t have any silver in them. The only Jefferson nickels that have silver were minted in 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945.
How can you tell if nickels are silver?
If you want to tell whether a nickel is made of silver, the first thing you should do is check if its date is 1942, 1943, 1944, or 1945. Afterward, check the location of the coin’s mint mark.
Silver nickels have a large mint mark on their reverse side on top of the Monticello building.
Even the ones minted in Philadelphia have this. On the other hand, the usual copper nickel 5-cent coins have the mint mark in a small size on the right side of the building. And their Philadelphia coins don’t have a mint mark at all.
Knowing this will particularly help you to recognize silver nickels that were minted in 1942. Remember, while all the nickels minted from 1943 to 1945 contain silver, some of those minted in 1942 only had copper and nickel.
These were minted in the first half of the year.
Is nickel cheaper than silver?
Nickel is cheaper and more readily available than silver. Some jewelers even use it instead of silver sometimes to reduce costs. It’s therefore not surprising that the main reason the mint stopped using silver in nickels and other coins in 1943 is because of its high price at the time.
How much is a nickel worth right now?
As of February 2023, the price of one metric tonne of nickel is $26,727.95.
What are the different types of US nickels?
The first nickel was the Shield nickel which was minted from 1866 to 1883. After this came the Liberty/V nickel that was minted from 1883 to 1913. This was replaced by the buffalo nickel that was minted from 1913 to 1938.
The latest nickel type, the Jefferson nickel, replaced this in 1938 and has been minted since then.