Coin Values Moving with Precious Metals: Up-Dated 6/17/2024: Gold $2320 | Silver $29.17

1886 Nickel Value

This particular year is significant within the Liberty nickel series. As a result of the difficulty collectors face in finding quality examples, 1886 nickel value listed on the chart is a premium. High condition pieces are becoming increasingly scarce and worth strong premiums. Each is evaluated for unique qualities and graded accordingly.

From recognizing the series of nickels, quickly move to evaluating the date, condition, and underling qualities of these old Liberty nickels.

1886 Liberty Nickel Representing Quality Value

Steps Leading to Value:

  • Step 1: Date Identified - This is a rare date in the Liberty nickel series.
  • Step 2: Grading Condition - It is important to inspect quality closely when premiums increase dramatically.
  • Step 3: Special Qualities - To discover subtle qualities to these coins, added detail is imaged and reviewed.
1886 Nickel Value
 Condition of Coin
Liberty Nickel Value Updated 2024
1886 $98 $177 $367 $802

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

Step 1: 1886 a Key Date to Verify

1886 Liberty Nickel Date Verified

1886 nickels became a discovery date as the Liberty series progressed through the decades. Its low production numbers, 3.3 million struck, is a basic reason its availability was sparse. Demand by informed dealers and collectors raised values well into premium levels. Today, 1886 nickels are a key date to find when collections of the series are assembled.

With values remaining strong, an accurate reading of the date is important. Under magnification, a clear difference in the ending six is seen and not mistaken for an eight.

Step 2: | Judging Quality Recognizes a Specific Grade

1886 Nickel Value is on a Steep Rise Following a Rise in Condition

Grades are a term applied to a coin's condition and a definition of their state of preservation. These descriptions detail what is necessary to achieve a particular grade. For example, a Mint State coin meets the grade standard if no wear to the surface is present. Descriptions of the Mint State grade point to elements to note, helping identify absence of wear.

An effective method to identify a grade is comparison to the following images representing different grades, looking for a close match. Next, the key deciding points to the grade are inspected, and when recognizable on the coin, place it within the grade category.

Mint State Grade

Mint State Grade Liberty Nickel

Mint State: A nickel is best viewed under a single light when considering it to qualify for Mint State condition. This grade is considered the highest quality because the surface shows no signs of wear. Confirming the original texture and luster is preserved is the first step in determining if the coin has received any wear.

It is important to focus on Liberty's headband, as well as her cheek. These focal areas are high relief and open spaces. The fine texture and luster to the metal remains on both of these surfaces. A nice texture of luster is complete over her cheek, and her headband's top edge is not smooth from wear. Wear is recognized as a smooth surface, a reduction in the height of the top edges of designs, and a color difference to the worn area on the nickel. Toning is also possible on these areas, a slight color change does not always indicate wear. Presence of the minting texture on the surface is the deciding indicator. When high areas are compared to lower, protected areas, look for a match of this fine texture.

Next, the absence of smoothness in the stars' minute details aids in identifying their lack of wear. Focus on the fully formed starts, often some Liberty nickels frequently have weak design impressions. A Mint State grade Liberty nickel is fully contoured and lustrous.

Extremely Fine Grade

Extremely Fine Grade Liberty Nickel

Extremely Fine: Displaying a "crisp" look, Liberty nickels in the Extremely Fine grade exhibit only very slight signs of circulation wear. High profile areas, slightly worn along the tops of their contours, is an overall definition of the condition. A first, overall impression of a well-preserved nickel is noticeable fine detail throughout. Close inspection of the portrait of Liberty's fine hair strands is the first step in determining the amount and extent of wear.

A small, flattened and worn area has developed within the wave of hair just above Liberty's eye. This flat spot connects the hair line at her brow to the headband above in a narrow smooth line. Hair strands on either side of the fattened area must remain visible to quality for the grade. A key feature is any smooth areas are separated and do not merge.

Second visual cue is the metal has lost its brilliant luster. Open areas of Liberty's face and neck are now displaying a smooth surface, lost is the original minting texture. The nickel now has a soft gray color to its surface. Above the headband, abundant fine detail, including wheat grains and cotton leaves, creates a crisp appearance. Balanced wear of the example nickel lends an appealing quality.

Fine Grade

Fine Grade Liberty Nickel

Fine Grade: Fine grade nickels are distinguished by noticeable wear and merging of major details. A large portion of remaining details show moderate wear. Once a highlight of Liberty's design, but now the hair above her forehead lacks definition.

Her brow has become a smooth, flat area that extends into the hair and the flatness reaches the headband. This metal loss involving the brow, hair, and headband, is readily apparent and aids in determining the degree of wear. Fine lines are missing and blending in many large areas throughout the hair.

The headband must display all letters of the word "Liberty" in order to remain within the Fine grade category. The letter "I" is faded, however remains complete top to bottom. A noticeable aspect of this condition is the visibility of many details above the headband, which contrasts with the smooth metal below.

Good Grade

Good Grade 1886 Liberty Nickel

Good Grade: The last remaining level of detail on Good grade Liberty nickels is a distinctly flat, smooth portrait. However, several characteristics are crucial to keeping these coins within the grade despite the level of wear.

Good grade status requires complete outlines. First, the entirety of Liberty is completely outlined, including the back of her head. Quite frequently, this area towards the back is soft, beginning of an unacceptable merging with the field of the coin. A second feature is that all stars are complete, separate from the rim. When stars merge with the rim or the field, the condition is rated as less than Good. Third, the condition is defined by a distinct inner edge to the rim. Aesthetic value of many worn coins is lowered as a result of missing areas to the rim. The date is inspected to judge all digits are bold and easily confirmed

Coins meeting the Good quality standards have all of their main design elements visible. In spite of heavy wear, the Liberty series design holds up well. An appealing collectible of an older nickel series.

How to Video: Grading Liberty Nickels

Grading the condition of Liberty nickels is covered in greater detail when viewing the video. Additional descriptions further describe the key elements of a narrow grade range on both the obverse and reverse.

Grading Liberty Nickels | How to Video and Descriptions

Step 3: | Special Qualities | High Initial Value

Premium Year with Large Value Increases at Higher Grades

An 1886 Liberty nickel is a significant find in a box of old coins. A date known in the collecting hobby as a semi-key issue of the series. Values for these in the Good grade range is ranked within the top three. A heavily worn example with a premium worth and also a collectible, is a special quality not found with the majority of other dates. Difficulty in finding pleasing examples is due to a low saving rate during their time in circulation.

Quality Liberty NickelsPremium Collector Quality for 1886 Nickels Displayed

Value chart entries cover a large range, with a significant increase noted separating the highly detailed condition of Extremely Fine grade. This demonstrates a low number were "collected" early as part of a determined effort to put together sets of the series.

Historically, by 1886, production of nickels had tapered downward. Adequate supplies from earlier years remained available. Although millions were produced, this number quickly diminishes in both quality and quantity once released into circulation. Today, many trading on the market are in conditions ranging from heavily worn to partial details visible. Availability of upper quality examples is limited and strongly priced. However, all 1886 nickels quickly find a place in a collection.

Values of collectible coins involve their popularity, state of preservation, demand, and availability. Liberty nickels as a series has a strong collector base. Pleasing aesthetics remain in their design all the way to the Good grade. Demand from the collector base allows for an active market. Consider any 1886 nickel represents a strong base value. A scarce and desirable, in all conditions, special quality coin.

Take a second look at all 1886 nickels. Overall, is the "look" of the coin acceptable? Is there a visible distraction, such as a large mark on the rim or nick to the surface standing out and catching the eye? Avoiding just these two downgrades places the coin well into collectible quality.


U.S. Mint. 1887 U.S. Mint Annual Report
U.S. Mint. Catalogue of Coins of the United States.

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