Coin Values Moving with Precious Metals: Up-Dated 11/27/2023: Gold $2010 | Silver $24.66


1885 Nickel Value

This is a key date to the Liberty nickel series. 1885 nickel value begins strong with examples in the lower worn condition range. Trending upward, high condition pieces are rarely available and worth very high premiums. All are in demand and inspected to grade their condition and examined for special qualities.

A step-by-step method follows and used to evaluate key features. Each is needed to complete and determine a narrow range on the value chart.

Obverse and Reverse of 1885 Liberty Nickel

Steps Leading to Value:

  • Step 1: Date Identified - The date is examined closely to confirm accuracy.
  • Step 2: Grading Condition - Condition - grade - as known in the hobby, is a major determination to value. Comparing to images establishes a close match.
  • Step 3: Special Qualities - Strong demand seeking these coins is provided by all levels of collectors
1885 Nickel Value
 Condition of Coin
DateGoodFineExtremely
Fine
Mint
State
Liberty Nickel Value Updated 2023
1885 $200 $420 $910 $1,696

The value chart lists a range of wholesale values these scarce nickel trade within the market. A range is necessary because of precise grading varies per coin. With scarce nickels, small improvements in condition results in large increases in worth.

Step 1: Date is Identified and Confirmed

Close-Up Date of 1885 Liberty Nickel

A view of the value chart confirms the status of the 1885 nickel. Since first minted, this year nickel has become a key date to the Liberty design series. The main mint in Philadelphia was the only mint of four in operation at the time to strike nickels in 1885. With just over 1.4 million produced, upon the ending of the design in 1912 this became the second lowest mintage of the series.

Give the coin a second look, accuracy is needed for a complete description. A popular coin in today's market, pleasing examples are considered a challenge to find and a key date to a set of nickels.

Step 2: | Condition is Judged and Defined into a Grade

Key to 1885 Nickel Value is an Accurate Recognition of Condition

Over time the market for coins has developed a great importance to the condition of these classic nickels. High values of 1885 nickels show in large increases depending on their grade. When judging condition accurately, full value is recognized.

Grades are a definition of condition use by collectors representing stages of wear and deterioration to the surface of coins. These stages of condition and their grades are imaged to compare, finding a close match of condition.

Mint State Grade

Mint State Liberty Nickel

Mint State: Mint State condition is the dividing line between a coin without wear, and those showing signs of wear. Defining a Mint State nickel is - no wear to the surface. This high-quality grade is determined by a close examine of a few features prone to wear.

First to check is the lines of hair just above Liberty's forehead. Wear is absent if the shine and texture of the metal is intact, and no color change is evident. Wear removes "luster" first. Luster is a fine texture giving the coin its brilliance. Wear smooths the metal, and changes its color to a duller gray without any highlights.

Next, to confirm no wear, secondary areas to examine are her cheek and the knot of hair at the back of her head. Open and quickly worn is the cheek. On the example its texture matches lower protected areas towards the ear. Additionally, hair strands of the bun remain without any dulling, flattening or color change.

Continue to focus on the upper points of design features. Look from different angles and from different levels. A bright light and tilting the coin deepens the shadows and brightens highlights giving added contrast to the surface. A uniform texture, is a strong indicator to unworn condition.

Extremely Fine Grade

Extremely Fine Grade Liberty

Extremely Fine: 1885 nickels are not often found in Extremely Fine condition. It is an elusive grade for the year. Characterized by just light touches of wear restricted to high points of design only.

Defining and recognizing the grade is the small flat area within the hair bun at the back of Liberty's head. Somewhat away for the center of the coin, the bun shows only a small worn, flatten area of metal on the center of the knot only. An overall smoothness to the hair strands and soft grey color is now covering the hair as well as the fields of the coin. This color change is evidence of wear.

Looking closely at the hair band above Liberty's eye, it is a requirement for the complete lettering of "Liberty" remains visible. Additionally, and importantly, the "I" of "Liberty" is fully distinct, remaining bold. Just below the band, only small areas of hair strands are visibly blended without any widespread merging or smoothness within the hair. Bold and sharp is a description of the coins' overall appearance.

Fine Grade

Pleasing Fine Grade Liberty Nickel

Fine Grade: Defining a Liberty nickel in Fine Grade is the many details remaining, offset by larges areas visibly worn and flattened metal. Missing detail combined with the strength of visible detail is used to determine these Fine condition nickels.

A key feature expected is a complete lettering of "Liberty" within the headband. Over Liberty's eye the loss of defining hair strands contributes to the condition. However, all letters to "Liberty" are readable placing the coin solid in the grade.

Additional design elements found are distinct wheat grains, cotton leaves, and cotton bolls. All of these visible features are showing a stage of moderate wear. A coin without large nicks, and dark color is high quality for the grade.

Good Grade

Good Grade 1885 Liberty Nickel

Good Grade: Although the Good condition nickel is heavily worn, key features are bold and visibly sharp. Defining the grade is heavy wear without major elements blending into the fields of the coin. The design of the Liberty nickel is still well portrayed in Good grade.

Judging the portrait, Liberty is completely outlined without fading. Look toward the back of her head to confirm a strong separation from the field. Date, stars, and rim are all separate of each.

Touches of detail towards the top of her head and the curl at the back of the neck in a nice addition to the charm of the coin. Smooth, honest, even wear is a quality characteristic.

How to Video: Grading Liberty Nickels

Reference the video to help in determining the grade of these Liberty nickels. Follow the descriptions as they point to key features defining the stages of wear into grades.

Grading Liberty Nickels | How to Video and Descriptions

Step 3: | Special Qualities | The Demand Factor

1885 Liberty Nickel Value Multi-Levels of Support

Today, 1885 nickels are collected in all levels of condition, from heavily worn to mint state grades. This strongly indicates a wide range of demand from all levels of collectors. Widely considered a key, scarce, and desirable date to acquire. All involved in the series know the exclusiveness of the coin and its important part in completing a collection of the Liberty series nickels.

Rarity of these nickels started with recording the second lowest mintage of the series. Not becoming evident as a stand-out year until the ending of the design. Philadelphia struck just over 1.4 million nickels in 1885, far below all other years.

Liberty Nickels Mintage Chart

1885 was just the third year of the series, at a time closely following the introduction year. Interest in and excitement of a new design was diminishing. By 1885, "newness" of the design was less. Attention to saving the "new" nickel also lessened. A vast majority of the coins continued in commerce until very worn and eventually removed as unfit for circulation.

Today's market for an 1885 nickel is strongly based on the demands of the collecting community. Liberty nickels are now a far distant design, with a wide range of values creating an opportunity for new collectors to enter the series at a lower premium level. Scarcity of upper end quality pieces draws the interest of advanced specialists along with a challenge. Slightly less challenging are mid-range premium and condition examples, also an opportunity to assemble a worthy collection. 1885 nickels quickly find a special place in any of these collections.

Confirming an accurate value of these high demand coins relies heavily on an accurate judgment of their condition. Many levels of condition are separated by small, subtle features either present or absent. The value scale of the chart shows the importance given by collectors to these stages of preservation. A strong desire to obtain quality is part of collecting. Seeking a professional review of an 1885 nickel is routine within the hobby. Grading services provide an assessment, improving marketability. PCGS and NGC are the top two services. Details of these are found on the following page.

Coin Grading Services | Professional Judgment of Authenticity and Grade

Both services start with authenticating the coin, and then grade its condition and finally encapsulating it in a holder. Values of all conditions of 1885 nickels finds the fee of these services worth the expense and assurance of identifying an accurate value.

Additionally, as you review the grading sites, listings of authorized dealers are convenient to contact and help with these services.

References

U.S. Mint. 1886 U.S. Mint Annual Report https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/570337
U.S. Mint. Catalogue of Coins of the United States. https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/554591

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