Do you have a 1942 nickel just hanging out in your collection? The 1942 nickel value is something that a lot of people are interested in, and here’s why. This rare coin was minted in the United States during World War II, and it has a very interesting history.
In this blog post, we will discuss the features of the 1942 nickel, as well as its value on the collector’s market. We will also take a look at some of the most common errors and varieties associated with this coin. So if you’re curious about the 1942 nickel value, make sure to keep reading!
1942 Nickel Value chart
|1942 No Mint Mark Nickel
|1942 S Nickel
|1942 D Nickel
|1942 P Nickel
|1942 Proof Nickel
1942 Nickel Value Guides
Now that you know a bit about the 1942 nickel and its features, it’s time to look at some value guides.
The face value of a nickel is five cents. However, as with most coins, the condition of the old coin is paramount in determining value. Depending on how well-preserved your coin is, you may get various grades such as Good, Fine, Extremely Fine, and Uncirculated.
The value of a 1942 nickel can range quite a bit, depending on the grade and whether it has any errors (which we will look at in a future section).
If you believe that your 1942 nickel is valuable, you should have it professionally graded by PCGS or NGC – two reputable coin grading services. By doing this, you’ll be able to determine the exact value of your coin and have a better understanding of its potential worth.
Let’s look at each nickel’s value, categorized by both its mint mark and its condition.
1942 No Mint Mark Nickel Value
1942 nickels without a mint mark were minted in Philadelphia before the metal composition was changed. There were 49,789,000 of them minted.
They can be worth about $0.10 in Good condition, about $0.20 in Fine condition, and around $0.50 in Extremely Fine condition.
In Uncirculated condition, they can be worth around $4.50 or up to $17 if in near-mint condition. So, even though it is the original composition and not the wartime composition, an uncirculated 1942 nickel with no mint mark can still be worth something!
1942 P Nickel Value
A 1942-P nickel is from the same US Mint location (Philadelphia) as the no mint mark nickels – however, the main difference is these were minted after the composition change in order to mark the difference. There were 57,873,000 nickels produced in 1942 with a P mint mark.
These 1942 nickels in good condition are worth about $1.70 each. In Fine condition, you will find them worth around $2.25. In Extremely Fine condition, they will have a value of $3.35.
Lastly, in Uncirculated condition, they can range from $8.40, which is still really great, up to around $23.
1942 D Nickel Value
The 1942 D nickel was minted 13,938,000 times before the composition change, and no D nickels were minted after the change.
These are worth around $0.20 in Good condition, $0.60 in Fine condition, and up to $2.30 in Extremely Fine condition.
In Uncirculated condition, you will find 1942 nickels to be worth around $31 to $67! Not too shabby for a pre-wartime composition nickel.
1942 S Nickel Value
The 1942 S nickel, minted at the US Mint location San Francisco, is the least common of the wartime composition nickels in 1942, and therefore the most valuable. There were 32,900,000 coins minted here, and all of them were minted after the composition change took place.
The 1942 S nickel value is very similar to the P nickel value. These nickels can go for $1.70 in Good condition, $2.25 in Fine condition, $3.35 in Extremely Fine condition, and $8.40 in the low end of Uncirculated condition. The upper level of Uncirculated condition is slightly higher at $28 each!
1942 Proof Nickel Value
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that there are some 1942 Proof Nickels. These coins were minted for the coin collecting hobby and are not circulated coins.
Before the metal composition change, they minted 29,600 of these. After the metal composition change, they minted an additional 27,600.
They are the most valuable, worth around $107 for a no mint mark proof or for around $228 for a P mint mark!
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1942 Nickel Errors
Like any coin, there can be errors or varieties in the design that make it unique and highly sought after. In the case of the 1942 nickel, there are a few examples.
1942 Nickel with D Over Horizontal D Error
This error is known as a “D over horizontal D” error and can be found on the 1942-D nickel. The mint mark was struck twice in different positions, and the resulting overlapping of images gives it this appearance. This type of error has been known to sell for a lot – one such coin with a near mint condition sold for a whopping $33,000!
1942 Nickel with Doubled Die Error
A doubled die obverse means that the image on the front (obverse) side of the coin appears two or more times because it was stamped twice. These coins are worth tens to hundreds of dollars.
1942 Nickel with Silver and Mint Mark Error
This is a rare variety that can also be found on the 1942 nickel. While it appears to be a pre-war composition nickel, due to there being no mint mark, there have been a few surfaces that are true with the wartime composition involving silver.
These coins are worth even more than your typical 1942 nickels – one recently sold for over $9,000!
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History of the 1942 Nickel
You don’t have to know much about world history to know that 1942 was definitely during World War II. So, of course, the 1942 nickel was minted during World War II, and it was definitely affected by it.
It was only a few years before this that the design of the nickel had changed. It had been a buffalo nickel for many years, but had recently been redesigned with the second US president, Thomas Jefferson, on the obverse side and his home Monticello on the reverse side.
So, in other words, the 1942 nickel is special in that it was already pretty new and interesting to the public. Some sources say that for the first few years of the new nickel’s minting, the public hoarded them and didn’t want to part with them. It took a few years to start seeing these new nickels in circulation.
The other major reason these nickels are noteworthy is because of their metal composition. When nickels were generally made of nickel, as their name implies, the US government decided to change the composition so as to save the nickel for the war effort.
Starting in October of 1942, these nickels (nicknamed the “war nickels” because of their era) were created using an alloy of copper (56%), silver (35%), and manganese (9%), which gave it a distinct coppery-silver color when compared to other nickels from over the years.
The 1942 nickel is considered to be quite rare and valuable in today’s market. Depending on its condition, it can be worth anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds or even thousands! It’s truly a testament to how the war effort brought the nation of America together and inspired everyone to sacrifice where they could, even in the metal composition of their coins.
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how to identify 1942 Nickel?
Now that you know a little bit about the history of this coin, let’s take a look at the features that make it so unique.
The Obverse of the 1942 Nickel
The obverse side features the iconic portrait of Thomas Jefferson. What used to be the buffalo nickel, now the image of the second president is pretty standard for a Jefferson nickel.
It displays Jefferson facing left, with his hair pulled up off his face and back behind his neck, giving him a very “Colonial America” appearance. His confident and capable profile is accented by his thick coat collar and shoulder at the base of the coin.
To his left are the words “IN GOD WE TRUST.” To his right, “LIBERTY” is inscribed into the coin. Underneath “LIBERTY,” you will find a small star and then the year of minting: 1942.
The Reverse of the 1942 Nickel
The reverse side shows Monticello, which was his estate in Virginia from 1770 to 1826, when he passed away. Above the spectacular building, there is the mint mark and then above that, the phrase “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is inscribed, which is a Latin phrase meaning “Out of Many, One,” which is the United States motto.
Directly below the building is the word “MONTICELLO” in delicate lettering, and beneath that are the words “FIVE CENTS” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” There should be six steps visible on the front of the Monticello building – in earlier years, the steps were cloudy and not quite as crisp, whereas by 1942, the US Mint had recut the design and created very clear steps on the front of Jefferson’s home.
Other Features of the 1942 Nickel
There are a few notable varieties of the 1942 nickel that are worth mentioning: the metal composition, the mint mark, and the coin’s dimensions and weight. Let’s take a closer look:
In the first part of the year, the 1942 nickel was created from its usual composition – copper (75%) and nickel (35%). Later in the year, in October, the coin began to be made up of an alloy of copper (56%), silver (35%) and manganese (9%) in order to save on copper and nickel for the war effort.
The 1942 nickel was minted at three different US Mint locations: Denver (D), Philadelphia (P), and San Francisco (S).
On the nickel, the mint mark is not located on the obverse side like it is on the other coins. Rather, it’s on the reverse side. Additionally, in the year 1942, the mint mark was moved from its usual position beside the Monticello building to a prominent position above it. They did this because they thought it might help them sort and weed out these atypical metal coins after the war.
This was the first time in history that Philadelphia ever put a P on its, as before that it always had no mint mark. This was specifically done to show the difference between the nickels produced before the metal composition change and those produced after.
Size and Weight
The 1942 nickel has a diameter of 21.2mm and weighs 5 grams. Interestingly, the weight didn’t fluctuate due to the change in composition.
Now that we’ve gone through the 1942 nickel value, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about these coins.
Is a 1942 Nickel Worth Money?
Yes! The value of a 1942 nickel can range from $0.10 in Good condition all the way up to $228 for an Uncirculated proof nickel with a P mint mark. And if there is an error, than it could possibly go for thousands!
How Do I Know that my 1942 Nickel is Made of Silver?
The best way to tell is by checking the mint mark. Pre-war composition nickels have no mint mark or have the mint mark in a tiny position to the right of the Monticello building on the coin’s reverse. However, the wartime composition ones have a large mint mark above the building. So, if it has a large P or D mint mark, then it is made of silver.
Are 1942 Nickels Rare?
Yes, the silver ones especially are considered rare coins because there were not many minted after the change in metal composition and not many have survived through the years. However, for typical circulated 1942 nickels with no errors and a standard design, they are still very reasonably priced.
In conclusion, 1942 nickels are valuable coins that hold a great deal of historical significance, especially to those who collect memorabilia from America during World War II. Whether you are looking for something to add to your collection or an investment piece, it is important to understand the value of a 1942 nickel based on its mint mark and condition. If you do, you will be on the lookout for these special coins.
And of course, keep an eye out for any errors, as this will add to the value of the 1942 nickel. Happy hunting!
Do you have a 1942 nickel collecting dust at home? Tell us about it in the comments below.