Coin Values Moving with Precious Metals: Up-Dated 6/7/2021: Gold $1883 | Silver $27.54


1939 Nickel Value

The Denver mint variety is the leader in 1939 nickel value. Mintmarks identify the different mints and Denver issues are scarce today. Using the first step in a step by step process identify all varieties.

Narrowing the range of how much these coins are worth is an understanding of condition. Finding your high premium, better condition examples, as you compare to grading images and descriptions.

1939 Jefferson Nickel

Steps Leading to Value:

  • Step 1: Date and Mintmark Variety - Identify each date and its mintmark variety. Importance of the Denver mint nickel is highlighted on the value chart.
  • Step 2: Grading Condition - Narrow how much your 1939 nickel is worth by comparing to grading images and judging condition.
  • Step 3: Special Qualities - 1939 has an elusive strike variety found on the reverse. Examine for this with high detailed images.
1939 Jefferson Nickel Value
 Condition of Coin
DateGoodFineExtremely
Fine
Mint
State
  1939 Jefferson Nickel Value Up-Dated 2021
1939 $0.05 $0.05 $0.25 $2.23
1939 D $1.31 $3.28 $6.17 $39
1939 S $0.31 $0.83 $3.25 $24

Three main varieties of nickels were struck at the different mints in 1939, all important to recognize. With condition also an important factor, proceed through the steps below to narrow the range of your coin on the value chart.

Step 1: | Date and Mintmark Variety Identified

Important 1939 Jefferson Nickels to Recognize

All U.S. coinage is dated according to the year struck. Additionally, mintmarks are used to identify the branch mint striking the coin. Each issue is valued separately because of different numbers produced by the mints and availability today. Confirm the exact date and mintmark to determine an accurate value.

1939-S Jefferson Nickel

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

1939-S Jefferson Nickel

San Francisco mint Jefferson nickels of 1939 are noted as the fourth lowest mintage of the entire Jefferson series. This alone guarantees interest of collectors. With a small 3.5 million minted, availability is limited and the date and mint variety is worth a premium in all grades.

San Francisco mint used a small "S" mintmark to identify their coinage in 1939. Look on the reverse at the left side of Monticello, an "S" between the building and the rim is a San Francisco nickel.

Mintmarks combined with condition is the process to identify how much these Jefferson nickels are worth.

1939-D Jefferson Nickel

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

1939-D Jefferson Nickel

Finding the "D" mintmark holds the key to premium value 1939 nickels. The Denver mint is a branch mint tasked to supplement production of coinage as needed throughout the central U.S.

1939 production of nickels from Denver amounted to just 3,514,000 pieces. This a very low amount, now stands as the second lowest of any variety of the entire series. Today 1939 nickel value is also leading the series. Collectors place a premium on all conditions of the coin.

Mintmarks on Jefferson nickels are found on the reverse, left of Monticello, near the rim. Denver mint is indicated by the "D" mintmark.

1939 Jefferson Nickel

No Mintmark on Reverse: Philadelphia Mint Struck the Coin

1939 Jefferson Nickel

Second year into the Jefferson series saw the Philadelphia mint strike 120 million nickels. This large quantity helped establish the Jefferson design alongside the Buffalo nickel. 1939 Philadelphia nickels are Abundant on a rarity scale, many are available.

Eye appealing coins in lightly circulated or better condition are pieces favored by collectors. A nicely detailed Monticello on the reverse is a collectible coin.

Philadelphia mint variety nickel does not have a mintmark to indicate the mint. On the reverse, at the left side of Monticello, the area shows no mintmark, confirming Philadelphia struck the coin.

Step 2: | Judge Condition to Identify Grade

1939 Jefferson Nickel Value is Conditional

Stages of wear to a coin's surface are defined by grades. Ranging from Mint State to Good grade, a heavily worn example. Identifying a grade narrows the value of 1939 nickels. Details of the design is used in grading as well as presence of luster to help spot the differences in condition.

1939 Jefferson Nickel Mint State Grade

Mint State Grade: A mint state nickel is notable for the complete coverage of luster. As minted, a coin without wear shines because of the fine texture of luster giving to a coin. Disrupt luster with wear and dull areas are the result.

Jefferson's portrait is distinctive by the very high profiles and deep recesses of his face and hair. If a coin has circulated and is worn the highest points are smooth and dull in appearance.

In the hair of Jefferson, through the center is inspected for any smoothing of the metal and loss of luster. This high area remains with a slight texture on a mint state coin confirming the grade. Tile the coin under a light to see the luster and original surface as minted.

1939 Jefferson Nickel Extremely Fine Grade

Extremely Fine Grade: With a small amount of wear, most luster is gone and visible smooth areas are on high points. Light wear is the defining metric to the Extremely Fine grade.

Inspecting Jefferson's hair, most areas remain with the small deeper lines to the hair showing. In the center of the hair a small smooth area has formed and is flattened in appearance. Often the flat area of hair is slightly different in color, the result of a smoother surface.

Overall a sharp and crisp nickel is presented.

Jefferson Nickel Fine Grade

Fine Grade: Wear is clearly visible on a Fine grade nickel, however, limited to only the high areas. Major contours remain within Jefferson's face and back of head.

The central part of the hair is now a completely smooth area. Defining the condition is flatness is continuous from his ear to the top of head. The line separating the hair from forehead is faded and missing in places.

1939 Jefferson Nickel Good Grade

Good Grade: Visible, heavy wear defines a Jefferson nickel in good grade. High areas are flat and connected.

Jefferson's hair is now one smooth, flat surface. Only the deepest details towards the back of his head remain within the hair. His cheek is fully connected with the hair with no evidence of separation. All areas above the eye are now flattened by wear.

Lettering and date are readable. A small connection of the tops of letters and the rim is possible in places. Despite the amount wear, a clear and somewhat bold portrait of Jefferson remains.

How to Video: Grading Jefferson Nickels

The above images are often all that is necessary to recognize the condition of an old nickel and determine a narrow value range. A further discussion of grading is found on the following page.

Video, Images and Descriptions | Grading Jefferson Nickels

Step 3: | Special Qualities Enhancing Value

Valuable 1939 Double Monticello Nickel Error

1939 Jefferson Nickel Double Monticello Error

Die doubling is a high-level error variety. It is a visual error where design elements are repeated next to each other creating a doubling effect. In the case of the 1939 nickel, letters on the reverse are slightly offset with the doubling look.

What makes this an important, high-level error is the doubling of the letters is on, and part of, the die. These working dies, used to strike coins, are expertly prepared. Although many working dies are required to strike the millions of nickels per year it is rare for any differences from one die to the next to occur.

Found on the 1939 Philadelphia minted nickel the distinct doubling of the letters of Monticello and Five Cents is easily seen and very dramatic, lending to the appeal of the error coin. Notice the pronounced doubling of the "O" of Monticello, the "VE" of FIVE and "CEN" of CENTS. Each have strong separations. Using magnification, many letters exhibit doubling although less pronounced.

Interest by collectors has remained steady and continues, they have named the error "Double Monticello". A popular error variety, easily seen, and is possible to find among circulated examples. Many are known in worn condition attesting to time in circulation without notice.

References

U.S. Mint. 1940 U.S. Mint Annual Report https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/333

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In Depth Jefferson Nickel Values
1938 to 1964

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Print the Coin Values Worksheet

After following the steps above to evaluate coins. Print the worksheet to list your Jefferson nickels and record their values.

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