Coin Values Moving with Precious Metals: Up-Dated 5/27/2024: Gold $2341 | Silver $30.82


1912 Nickel Value

Becoming the last year of the Liberty design issued into circulation. 1912 nickel value depends on verifying the specific date and mint combination. This starts a step-by-step method to a complete assessment.

A scarce mintage issue, plus small differences in their state of preservation is inspected and judged.

1912 Liberty Nickel

Steps Leading to Value:

  • Step 1: Date Identified - The only year Liberty nickels were minted by Philadelphia and two branch mints. Significant to identify the exact mint of issue.
  • Step 2: Grading Condition - Grading condition of the coin is done comparing to images of standards of the different grades. Narrowing value range shown on the chart.
  • Step 3: Special Qualities - Strength of the market for this unique year is supported by an active collector base.
1912 Nickel Value
 Condition of Coin
DateGoodFineExtremely
Fine
Mint
State
Liberty Nickel Value Updated 2024
1912 $1.32 $3.14 $23 $64
1912-D $2.38 $8.45 $68 $206
1912-S $58 $118 RARE RARE

Wholesale values are listed on the chart. Use the chart as a guide: demand, and dealers needs influence up or down these values into a range.

Step 1: Identify the Exact Mint Issue

Unique Branch Mint Varieties are Premium 1912 Nickel Value

Accuracy is a large factor in determining values of coins. With 1912 as an unusual year of the Liberty series there are three different varieties of coins to identify. Compare to images featuring close-ups of the different marks representing the various mint's production.

1912-S Liberty Nickel

"S" Mintmark on Reverse: San Francisco Mint Struck the Coin

S Mintmark 1912 Liberty Nickel

San Francisco struck what became a premier collectible nickel in 1912. Firstly, these are scarce in all conditions, the mint reported only 238.000 released into circulation. Secondly, the majority are in heavily worn condition. Importantly to the market, it is the only year of the Liberty series San Francisco struck nickels.

A close inspection of the reverse is needed to confirm the scarce variety. Look along the rim, to the left of "C" in CENTS. A small letter "S" mark is between the rim and dot just above.

1912-D Liberty Nickel

"D" Mintmark on Reverse: Denver Mint Struck the Coin

D Mintmark 1912 Liberty Nickel

The Denver mint struck an important nickel to the Liberty series in 1912. With the design ending in the year, Buffalo nickels began in 1913, these are the only Denver mint variety of the series. A fair amount was coined, just over 8.4 million. However, their uniqueness as the only year of the variety supports interest and demand from the market place. Also, a coin where premiums are attached to all grades. A nice coin to find.

The Denver mintmark was placed on the reverse. Inspect close to the rim between the "U" of UNITED and "C" of CENTS. The small letter "D" is just below a dot, identifying the Denver mint production.

1912 Liberty Nickel

No Mintmark on Reverse: Philadelphia Mint Struck the Coin

No Mintmark Liberty Nickel

In 1912 the Philadelphia mint finished the Liberty series of nickels strongly. Striking over 26 million nickels. The mint contributed multi-million coinage numbers each year of the entire Liberty design with only one exception, 1885 dated nickels. As the main U.S. mint, no mintmarks were used to identify its production.

1912 Philadelphia variety nickels are recognized by the absence of a mintmark on the reverse of the coin. There is a "dot" as part of the design to the left of the letter "C" in CENTS. Between the "dot" and the rim, if the space is blank, the nickel was minted in Philadelphia.

Step 2: | How to Judge Condition and Determine a Grade

Recognize Quality Collectible Condition and Premium Liberty Nickels

Grades define different stages of condition coins present. These grades are used by the collecting hobby to help identify and categorize their state of preservation. Listings on value charts show the premiums attached to each grade helping narrow a range of worth. Examine coins under a single light to highlight faint details important accuracy. Key features found within the design are inspected closely.

Mint State Grade

Obverse Mint State Liberty Nickel

Mint State: A mint state nickel is defined as a coin without any wear to its surface. This is judged by inspecting high relief features to the design. When a coin is minted luster in imparted to upper most surface of the metal. Giving the coin brilliance, luster is also delicate, easily worn once entering circulation.

Judging the hair just above Liberty's forehead, on the example, notice the fine and small hair strands remain covered in luster and no smoothing of the metal is visible. Wear dulls the nickel alloy to a gray color and flattens the roundness of the hair strands.

When tilting the coin under a light, both her cheek and field of the coin are similar in appearance. These areas still display a moving shine on Mint State condition nickels. Next to inspect are the small raised design features of the leaves and grains of wheat above the headband. All are fully contoured, no flat spots and dullness to the surface. Mint State is a premier condition, highlighting any collection of nickels.

Extremely Fine Grade

Obverse Extremely Fine Grade Liberty Nickel

Extremely Fine: Small traces of wear creating flattened areas on the highest design elements is a nickel in Extremely Fine grade. Condition, overall is sharply detailed with the only noticeable flatness is confined to just above Liberty's forehead. A silver-gray color is now the tone of the surface, replacing the shine of higher quality.

Small evidence of design loss is seen in the wheat grains and colon bolls above the headband. Also, there is a small leveling of the hair bun showing an area of missing hair strand detail. Giving the coin a bold look is the contours of her cheek and neck are well-defined.

A majority of the surface is worn lightly, only removing the delicate luster. Protected areas, the fields in front Liberty, show only traces of wear and smoothness.

Fine Grade

Fine Grade 1912 Liberty Nickel

Fine Grade: Fine grade is noted and defined by the merging of major design features due to wear. The portrait of Liberty has lost the bold hair line separating her forehead. Many hair strands are blended into flattened areas.

One important element keeping the example nickel in Fine grade is the full lettering of "LIBERTY" within the headband. Necessary, is the visible letter "I." Additional detail is visible behind the headband, indications of grains to the wheat and a few remaining hair strands.

Moderate wear balanced with remaining detail is a nickel of collector quality. These are of a quality with ample features to have appeal to the hobby.

Good Grade

Good Grade Liberty Nickel

Good Grade: Noticeable on the example, is a significant amount of wear has removed the majority of features to Liberty's portrait. Defining the Good grade is a lack of design elements but remaining a complete outline of Liberty. A full outline is a key quality to place a nickel in Good grade.

Eye appeal now becomes important. These coins are worn, flat in design, however the completeness of the inner rim, stars, and Liberty with a strong date is avoiding a "worn-out" look. A coin with a positive appeal. A second look at the outer edge does not detect any noticeable dents, another positive to eye appeal.

How to Video: Grading Liberty Nickels

With the addition of video giving further insight into grading, improve accuracy in recognizing each separate grade. Both the obverse and reverse of these nickels are inspected and key differences to each grade are highlighted.

Grading Liberty Nickels | How to Video and Descriptions

Step 3: | Special Qualities | History and Rarity Add to Worth

1912 Nickels and Their Built-In Value

It is the combined total of all special qualities that now supports strong values of 1912 nickels. Collections of these coins typically feature an example of each year and any major variety. Issues struck by branch mints, coins with mintmarks, are necessary varieties for these collections.

Along with the year holding the status of "last of series," it is also the only year branch mints contributed nickels to the Liberty series. Furthering the interest of collectors is the very low mintage of the San Francisco issue. A twentieth century coin with just 238,000 produced, these are a key coin needed to complete a collection of nickels. Strong and steady demand is focused on this one variety.

Mint Set of the Three Varieties of 1912 Liberty Nickels

Also of great interest to the coin hobby is the Denver 1912 nickel. Although millions were released into circulation, the condition of those remaining is low. A shortage of quickly saving high quality examples soon after release at the time is noted in high premiums for these upper grade pieces. Most available to collectors today were set aside after serving a long time in commerce. 1912 Denver nickels, a needed coin in most collections, are in short supply when high quality is desired.

Philadelphia mint, the primary mint of the U.S. contributed a large share to 1912 nickel production. As part of its duties, the mint's engraving division also provides all coining dies to serve itself and all minting operations across the country. Dies required by Denver and San Francisco were delivered to the mints in time to strike the calendar year's coinage of 1912.

Strengths of the 1912 Nickel

  • Last Year of Series
  • Unique With Branch Mint Varieties
  • Record Low Mintage Numbers
  • Scarce Today in High Quality
  • A Nickel Series Minted in Both the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

1912 nickels present an opportunity to assemble a unique single year collection with three historically interesting coins.

References

U.S. Mint. 1913 U.S. Mint Annual Report https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/514126
U.S. Mint. Catalogue of Coins of the United States. https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/554591

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