Coin Values Moving with Precious Metals: Up-Dated 2/19/2024: Gold $2020 | Silver $23.06


1887 Nickel Value

Using a step-by-step method, discovers a close range of 1887 nickel value. These Liberty nickels are collected by both their date and condition. An active coin market sets how much they are worth based on these two primary metrics.

1887 nickels are challenging to find as a date, and a scarcity premium is shown on the chart. Secondly, when moving up the condition scale, most examples available today are heavily worn. High quality pieces are also difficult to find. Example images give insight and close-up references to identify and determine the qualities determining a narrow value range.

1887 Liberty Nickel

Steps Leading to Value:

  • Step 1: Date Identified - Confirm rarity by confirming date.
  • Step 2: Grading Condition - Identifying true quality using images to compare.
  • Step 3: Special Qualities - A steady demand is focused on a minimum requirement to quality.
1887 Nickel Value
 Condition of Coin
DateGoodFineExtremely
Fine
Mint
State
Liberty Nickel Value Updated 2024
1887 $10 $24 $52 $93

A narrow range of Wholesale values is listed on the chart. Using these as a guide is a conservative approach, taking into account variances in the market. Dealer's demands and overall eye appeal contribute to a final worth.

Step 1: A Key Date: Identify the 1887 Nickel Opportunity

Full and Close View of 1887 Date on Liberty Nickel

1887 is another early year of the Liberty nickel series, presenting an opportunity. With an initial strong premium value, even in heavily worn condition, detecting a nice quality coin is very possible. The Philadelphia mint struck all nickel coinage during the time, and despite a mintage just over 15 million pieces, these are considered a somewhat difficult coin to find in nice condition. Here is where " Grading" in the next step is important, and value climbs.

A first step in determining how much this coin is worth begins with a correct identification of its date. A second look at the date is always taken by all. Listings of coins by date is how they are categorized both in value charts and by collectors within their holdings and collections.

Step 2: | Grading Identifies and Rates Different Wear Conditions

Small Details Visible Decides 1887 Nickel Value

Grading Liberty nickels starts with an overall view, determining a general condition of their surface. Main categories to recognize are heavy wear as complete flatness of design, moderate wear showing as noticeable smoothness on selected areas, and light wear, hard to detect without a closer inspection.

Next, comparing images of different grades further places the condition within a grade range. Follow with judging specific features and deciding the grade as highlighted in the descriptions. Often, magnification is helpful in recognizing smaller intact areas of the design required to meet higher grade standards.

Mint State Grade

Mint State Grade Obverse Example Liberty Nickel

Mint State: The key definition of a Liberty nickel in Mint State condition is a coin with no surface wear. Fine lines and high contour points are first examined to judge the absence of wear. The force of minting a coin imparts a fine texture to the surface of the metal and its distinctive luster. Luster on the coin, which gives it brilliance, is also delicate and easily worn once it enters circulation.

Inspecting hair on Liberty's forehead, all fine and small hair strands are still lustrous, with no evidence of smooth spots on the metal. Luster is quickly lost with wear, the nickel alloy turns gray, and the small contours of hair strands flatten.

When tilting the coin in front of a light, both her cheek and the coin's field appear similar in texture and shine. These high and low points both show a moving brilliance as the nickel is moved under a light. Next, examine the small raised design elements of the leaves and wheat grains above the headband. No flat spots or dull areas are visible on any of the raised surfaces. Any collection of Liberty nickels is enhanced with Mint State grade examples.

Extremely Fine Grade

Example of Liberty Nickel in Extremely Fine Grade

Extremely Fine: A nickel from 1887 remaining with ample small and intricate details is a condition very difficult to find. In many high areas, there is light wear and just slight smoothing, defining the grade as Extremely Fine. This grade within collector quality is first determined by two factors.

Inspect Liberty's hair above her eye first. Fine hair lines are gradually fading and becoming merged within the wave of hair. On the forehead, this small area remains well defined as a hairline. Notably, there are no connections between any small areas of smoothness. Second, the hair tie in the back displays a flat spot in the middle. Hairlines barely visible within the hair indicate a loss of detail. Again, the waves in the hair do not merge above or below the middle section.

It is noticeable the cheek and neck of Liberty is somewhat smoothed, losing their luster and brilliance. On the edge of the bust line, just above the date, a flattened area is now beginning to develop. Clear details raise the appeal to collectible status. A nice coin that deserves a nice premium.

Fine Grade

Obverse View of Fine Grade Liberty Nickel

Fine Grade: Once missing detail on a Liberty nickel is obvious, this is an indication of moderate wear. There is a merging of key design features. As an illustration, notice the loss of separation of the hair lines above Liberty's forehead. Along the entire forehead, only a few deeper recesses of the hair remain.

Ample detail of the wheat grains and cotton leaves above the headband keeps these coins in the Fine grade quality. Notice how Liberty's hair at the back of her head appears smooth in places with missing fine lines in the strands. Larger areas of detail are missing from the waves of hair above her ear. Additionally, directly over the eye, there is a large area of no detail in the strands at all. These are three unique stages of wear that are typical of this quality nickel.

The visible lettering "LIBERTY" within the headband is a significant feature that is essential to the grade. With a clear and strongly impressed line above, all letters are visible. The "I" is often weak but full, its position is in an area with the heaviest wear. A full letter "I" remains on coins of the Fine grade.

Good Grade

Liberty Nickel in Good Grade Condition

Good Grade: An 1887 nickel within the Good grade is in demand, as indicated by the value chart. The condition is visible, heavy wear, but there are a few characteristics remaining allowing the coin to qualify at the grade.

Liberty's full and complete outline is the first important element to verify. Typically, smaller design features are visible at the top of her head. Sometimes on these nickels, the back of her head is indistinct and blends into the field of the coin. A lack of definition in the outline of her portrait lowers collector appeal, its grade, and market value.

Liberty is framed by thirteen stars; each must remain fully outlined and distinct from the field. This major design feature is lost when weak stars fade into the field or begin merging with the rim. All of the numbers to the date are clearly visible, and the nickel's inner edge of the rim is still full along its entirety. When a nickel is graded as Good, minor details are missing due to heavy wear, but major features remain intact.

How to Video: Grading Liberty Nickels

Subtle details are often the difference between levels of preservation. The standards used to determine condition and how to identify a grade are highlighted in the video specific to Liberty Nickels.

Grading Liberty Nickels | How to Video and Descriptions

Step 3: | Special Qualities | Good Grade and its Collector Appeal

Solid Value of the Minimum Collectible Condition

A consideration when placing values on older coins is the demand or strength of the market for a particular coin. This is combined with the appeal and marketability of a coin. A very pleasing coin within a very popular series is a high value, quickly marketed coin. High grade Morgan dollars is a prime example of popularity and appeal resulting in nice premiums.

Strength and demand for Liberty nickel is steady. Here is a study ranking the different coin series Popular Coin Series | Liberty Nickels showing a midrange placement of popularity for the Liberty nickel series.

Appeal and marketability of 1887 nickels is noted with its starting value in Good grade. The key here is any coin falling below the Good grade condition quickly loses its appeal as a collectible. Visual appeal of the coin and recognizing the key features is evident when comparing the differences.

Good Grade and Lower Quality ComparedVisual Differences of Good Quality vs. Lower Quality

Liberty nickels in Good Grade display three features important to their overall look and pleasing qualities. First is a full, strong outline of liberty. Liberty's portrait is well raised and bold from the field in the top row of coins.

Second is the strength and visibility of the stars and date. A quality coin displays full stars, complete, and not touching the edge. Combined with an easily readable date, this adds a very bold distinction of quality.

Third, and significant, is a complete inner edge to the rim. This feature completes the "frame" to the design. In total, all design elements remaining in the Good grade are full, bold, and visually intact. These coins do not appear as worn-out.

The lower row are examples of coins just missing the quality look and appeal. Compare the strength of Liberty's outline, slightly weak in areas. Also, the very faded stars and the resulting uneven appearance is a large distraction. And once the inner rim becomes incomplete and fades in the field of the coin, it is a clear indication of excessive wear. These coins appear as worn-out.

1887 nickels, part of the early years of the series, are showing premiums over many of the later dates. Judge the amount of wear to the coin as well as the subtle aesthetics of boldness, completeness, and overall eye appeal. Confirm an appealing, marketable quality coin.

References

U.S. Mint. 1888 U.S. Mint Annual Report https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/313
U.S. Mint. Catalogue of Coins of the United States. https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/554591

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