1959 Nickel Value: How Much Is It Worth Today?
Jefferson nickels have been around for quite some time. They replaced the old Buffalo nickels in 1938 and have remained in use until the present day. As with all other coins, these nickels have undergone certain changes throughout the years, however, even if the base design of Jefferson’s face on the obverse and the Monticello on the reverse have remained the same.
So, is there anything special in the 1959 nickel or is this Jefferson half-dime the same as most others? Can this be a valuable collector’s coin or should you just use its face value and return it into circulation? Here are all the details you need to know:
1959 Nickel Value Chart
|Mint mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||Uncirculated|
|1959 “D” Nickel Value||$0.10 to $0.25||$0.50 to $3||$9 to $25||$45 to $1,000 and above|
|1959 No Mint Mark Nickel Value||$0.10 to $0.35||$0.50 to $3||$7.50 to $25||$35 to $150 and above|
|1959 Proof No Mint Mark Nickel Value||n/a||n/a||$360 to $400||$525 to $9,500 and above|
1959 nickel coins are available in three different variants, like most other coins minted in the 20th century. These include the Denver Mint which offered the largest quantity of coins for wide circulation, the Philadelphia Mint which offered a noticeably smaller quantity that year, and the San Francisco Mint which only worked on high-quality proof coins.
As you can see from the chart above, there is a slight variation between Denver and Philly 1959 nickels that feels somewhat overly tilted in favor of “D” coins because of a few high-value sales done with uncirculated coins. The true value here lies in the proof nickels minted in San Francisco, however, as those can easily sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars. So, let’s check all three variants in detail below.
1959 “D” Nickel Value
1959 nickels made in Denver are the standard for nickels for this year. In fact, the Denver Mint traditionally mints more nickels than the Philadelphia Mint with a few exceptions over the years. In 1959, this mint was responsible for the production of 160,738,240 five-cent coins.
As with previous years, the obverse side of these coins was designed by Felix Schlag and it includes the left-facing head of former US president Thomas Jefferson. Further to the left of his face are the words “In God we trust” and to the right – the word “Liberty” followed by the mintage year 1959.
The reverse side is also designed by Felix Schlag and it features Jefferson’s famous residence in West Virginia, the Monticello. Above it is minted the motto “E pluribus unum”, i.e. “From many, one”.
Directly below the building is minted its name “Monticello” so no one is confused as to what they are looking at. Further below is written the coin’s face value of “Five Cents” and below it – “United States of America”. Lastly and crucially – directly to the right of the Monticello is a little letter “D” – this is the mint mark of the Denver Mint.
Aside from this tiny letter, coins minted in Denver in 1959 look exactly the same as nickels made in other mints and in other years. They have a composition of 75% copper and 25% nickel with a solid copper core, they are 21.2 mm in diameter, and they weigh 5 grams. The edge of these coins is always plain and is neither reeded nor lettered.
So, what about the value of these Denver-made coins today? While a mintage of 160 million coins isn’t all that major, in the great scheme of things, these coins are still considered to be quite common because nickels of many previous and later years were made in the exact same way and with the exact same design.
So, the vast majority of Denver-made 1959 nickels released in mass circulation won’t be worth more than their face value. The few exceptions are those coins that are extra well preserved – 1959 “D” nickels can be worth anywhere between $0.50 (ten times their face value) and $3 or sixty times their face value.
Nickels that are of even higher quality can be valued at up to $25 and those coins that have never made it into circulation can be worth anywhere between $45 and $1,000 or more. As for what the difference between $45 and $1,000 is – that depends on whether or not your coin has any unique characteristics such as some interesting production errors – more on those below.
1959 No Mint Mark Nickel Value
The second most common type of nickel you may find from 1959 is a nickel with no mint mark to the right of the Monticello on the reverse side of the coin. Such coins were made by the Philadelphia Mint and don’t feature a “P” mint mark simply because that mint didn’t use to issue mint marks until the 1980s.
So, while a 1959 nickel with no mint mark may seem like a special and extra rare, valuable error, it’s actually just a regular coin minted in Philadelphia. In the case of the 1959 nickel, there were 27,248,000 such coins – substantially fewer than those made in Denver but still more than enough for this coin to not be considered “rare” in any sense of the word.
Aside from the lack of a mint mark, Philly 1959 nickels aren’t different than those made in Denver – they feature the same obverse and reverse side designs made by Felix Schlag, they have the same proportions, and they are made of the same materials.
There seems to have been a slight difference in minting quality in that particular year, which is why most high-quality Denver nickels tend to sell for more than their Philly counterparts. Yet, in the mid-quality range, the averages are slightly higher for Philly nickels simply because there are fewer of them.
All this is just averages, however – if you find a high-quality 1959 nickel with no mint mark, it will be worth a good deal of money, possibly in the hundreds of dollars if it has some interesting manufacturing errors or other features.
1959 Proof No Mint Mark Nickel Value
Lastly, there is the other 1959 nickel with no mint mark – the proof nickel. As with any other US coin, the 1959 nickel had a proof version which is a coin made in extra high quality that wasn’t issued in wide circulation but was instead intended to serve as proof against counterfeits.
Additionally, as with all rare coins, these proof coins also served as valuable collector’s items and the US Mint meant them as such from the go, typically producing a few million such coins of every type per year to sell to numismatists. In the case of the 1959 nickel, there were 1,149,291 such proof coins made by the San Francisco Mint.
Interestingly enough, despite being made in San Francisco, these coins didn’t have an “S” mint mark – unlike the Denver Mint which almost always places a mint mark, and unlike the Philly Mint which almost never did (prior to the 1980s), San Francisco Mint coins sometimes had mint marks and sometimes – didn’t.
This can lead to some confusion which is why you may see some people incorrectly list the 1959 proof nickel as made in Philadelphia.
So, aside from the lower mintage, what exactly is different in the proof nickel? What does “higher quality” mean? What makes proof coins special, in general, is that they are made with entirely different minting dies and feature much greater detail – that was a must if they were to function as both proof coins and collector’s items. That’s also why they were much more expensive to make.
In the case of the 1959 proof nickel, there are three separate quality grades this coin can come in – “proof”, “cameo”, and “deep cameo”. Because of their higher quality and lower numbers, all three types are quite valuable today.
There are about 13 known coins with quality grades in the 67 mark (according to the 1-to-70 Sheldon coin grading scale) that are worth about $400 apiece and about 24 coins with grades of 68 that can be worth up to $1,000.
There is also one known 1959 proof nickel coin of 68+ quality that’s worth $3,600 and one other coin of 69 grade that’s worth $9,500. So, as you can see, proof nickels can command much greater prices than those made in Denver or Philadelphia but they are also much rarer and harder to find.
1959 Nickel Grading
1959 nickel coins are graded just like all others – first, you need to check the year and place of their mintage, then you must make sure they are of a high enough quality grade, and, lastly, you’d want to look for certain unique features or manufacturing errors that might help your coin stand out from all the others. For a visual example of 1959 nickel grading, check out this video.
Lists of 1959 Nickel Errors
Errors may mean something negative in virtually every other area of life but they are usually quite desirable when it comes to numismatics. Here, the “right error” can make a particular coin very rare and incredibly valuable, and sought-after.
What constitutes a “right error” isn’t just a matter of rarity, however – ideally, it will also be something that’s visually appealing or, at least, interesting. There are errors such as the blank planchet error (where one or two sides of the coins haven’t been minted on the metal planchet at all) that can be rare but are so incredibly uninteresting and visually unappealing that they just aren’t worth much.
For some visual examples of coin errors in 1959 nickels, you can check out this video. We’ll also list some of the errors you should watch out for below:
1959 Nickel Double Struck Error
Also known as a double die error, this type of error happens when the coin’s planchet or the minting die has moved at least a little bit between the two strikes of the die. This issue can arise because coins need to be struck at least twice by the minting die for the coin’s design to look good.
If there is even the slightest shift between the two strikes, however, the coin’s obverse or reverse side can look a bit blurry or distorted. As such, this error isn’t unappealing most of the time – on the contrary, it usually looks quite nice. And, as a result, it can also bump up the coin’s value.
1959 Nickel Struck on a Dime Planchet Error
This sounds like something that shouldn’t happen but it sometimes does – every once in a while the wrong type of planchet gets placed on the conveyor belt and the minting die strikes a planchet that isn’t meant for it. In the case of the 1959 nickel, there are cases of it being minted on the planchet of a 1959 silver dime.
These dies aren’t just made of silver – which is great in and of itself – but they are also smaller than the nickel planchets. So, when this error occurs, the outer edges of the nickel’s design won’t be minted on the dime planchet.
1959 Nickel Die Cud Error
This type of error happens when the minting die has gotten too old and is a bit cracked due to wear and tear. So, a die cud error is characterized with tiny (or larger) die cracks noticeable on the coin minted with such a die.
1959 Nickel FAQ
How do you know if you have a rare 1959 Nickel?
1959 nickels aren’t really rare, unless we’re talking about proof nickels or about those few rare “D” or no-mint-mark nickels that never made it into circulation and also have some interesting production errors on them.
Do 1959 nickel coins have silver in them?
They aren’t supposed to as silver was discontinued for nickel coins much earlier. It was still used in other coins in 1959, however, so, if you find a nickel that was accidentally minted on the planchet of another coin that was still made of silver, your nickel may therefore have silver in it. In that case, however, the planchet error itself will be significantly more valuable than the little bit of silver in the coin.