Coin Values Moving with Precious Metals: Up-Dated 7/6/2024: Gold $2384 | Silver $31.03

1946 Nickel Value

Collectors are noticing the age and availability of old coins. Finding suitable coins to add to a collection is a challenge. 1946 nickel value is supported by demand for elusive high quality and eye appealing examples.

Follow the step-by-step approach to identify; date and mint combination with a judgement of condition determining the placement of your coin on the value chart.

1946 Jefferson Nickel

Steps Leading to Value:

  • Step 1: Date and Mintmark Variety - 1946 is considered an available date, however, the San Francisco variety is a notable below average mintage.
  • Step 2: Grading Condition - Judge the amount of wear and determine if its advanced age is preserved in a collectible condition.
  • Step 3: Special Qualities - Collectors are searching Jefferson nickels to locate eye appealing examples. These collectible coins have been spared any cleaning attempts.
1946 Jefferson Nickel Value
 Condition of Coin
  1946 Jefferson Nickel Value Up-Dated 2024
1946 $0.05 $0.05 $0.05 $1.67
1946 D $0.05 $0.05 $0.05 $1.50
1946 S $0.05 $0.05 $0.05 $1.42

Minted in three location across the country, 1946 nickels are represented by three distinct varieties. Mintmarks identify the coin. Notable and worth recognizing is the San Francisco variety with a below average mintage.

Appeal of Jefferson nickels to collectors is their affordability. Locating high condition coins of all date and mint combinations is a challenge to both new and advanced collectors.

1946 nickels resumed the former alloy of 25 percent nickel to 75 percent copper. The temporary silver alloy in the five-cent denomination ended in December of 1945.

Step 1: | Date and Mintmark Variety Identified

Three Varieties of 1946 Jefferson Nickel to Recognize

U.S. mints strike nickels each year to meet the demands of commerce. These mints are located in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco, supplying those part of the country. On average the Philadelphia mint on the east coast strikes the greatest number of nickels any given year. Collectors are alert to low production numbers indicating a possible scarce variety.

Condition of a coin combined with date and mint variety determines availability and its worth to collectors.

1946-S Jefferson Nickel

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

1946-S Jefferson Nickel

Just over 13.5 million San Francisco mint nickels were struck in 1946. This number produced in context to the series became a below average amount. The coins are not scarce, however, most show heavy wear from time in circulation. A nicely detailed example is less likely found.

San Francisco mint production is identified by the small "S" mintmark on the right of Monticello.

1946-D Jefferson Nickel

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

1946-D Jefferson Nickel

Denver, the branch mint located in Colorado, supplies the central U.S. with coinage. In the mid 1940's the mint struck 44.7 million Jefferson nickels. An ample supply resulting in many surviving today. Condition is key to a coin suitable to add to a collection. Available mint state condition coins are affordable and popular with all nickel collectors.

Mintmarks are used to identify branch mints with Denver placing a "D" mark to the right of Monticello just inside the rim.

1946 Jefferson Nickel

No Mintmark on Reverse: Philadelphia Mint Struck the Coin

1946 Jefferson Nickel

Philadelphia, the main mint, typically leads in total coinage numbers struck. In 1946, production required 161,116,000 nickels to meet demand of commerce. This is the highest number of the three mints resulting in an abundant variety.

Philadelphia did not place a mintmark on coinage in 1946. The absence of a mintmark to right of Monticello next to the rim confirms the Philadelphia mint nickel.

Step 2: | Condition is Judged and Grade Determined

Grading Confirms 1946 Jefferson Nickel Value

Two main factors are considered when grading a coin. Is the coin worn or without wear? In the Jefferson nickels series; most of the premium value is found in the Mint State (no wear) grade. Detecting wear to the surface is the deciding factor.

Design elements are inspected in the grading process with an eye to completeness of detail. Begin judging condition by inspecting the image of a Mint State coin. A mint state nickel is in the condition it left the mint. Collectible nickels display crisp detail and eye appeal; an elusive trait.

Mint State Grade

1946 Jefferson Nickel Mint State Grade

Mint State: Premium status collectible nickels are coins with-out any wear to the surface. No wear is the defining condition to the mint state grade. Coins as they leave the mint are covered with a delicate luster. Any time in circulation removes luster and dulls the surface.

High points are inspected for indications of wear. Jefferson's eye brow is one area high in relief, looking closely at the mint state example luster and shine is still present. The ridge of the brow is fully covered in luster. Just below the eye his cheek is also free from any signs of dulling or wear. All areas of the surface are consistent in texture and tone of the metal helping confirm a mint state example.

Extremely Fine Grade

Jefferson Nickel Extremely Fine Grade

Extremely Fine: Light wear, loss of luster, and a soft silver-tan toning is indicating a Jefferson nickel in Extremely Fine grade. A short amount of time in circulation has reduced the highest areas of design by a small degree. A smoothness to the metal at the high points is caused by wear and a slight change in color is noted.

Close-up, the eye brow remains raised and defined from the forehead. A small flat spot is at the side of Jefferson's eye with a slight connection to the cheek below. Both the eye brow and cheek remain well defined and high in profile.

Crisp and defined details are found within the hair and all lettering and date are sharp. A nice natural toning is highlighting the portrait of Jefferson.

Average Circulated Condition Examples

Jefferson Nickels in Average Circulated Condition

Average Circulated Condition: Wear is noticeable and covers the majority of the high relief areas. Large flat areas are within the hair and also found on the shoulder. A moderate amount of wear is the typical condition of circulated Jefferson nickels.

Jefferson's eye brow is smooth and part of a flat area extending to the cheek below his eye. Once rounded and high relief cheek in now a flat smooth feature merging with the jaw.

Monticello on the reverse is lacking a strong definition of the triangle above the columns. The columns themselves are faded and lack any detail. Nickels from the 1940's displaying large smooth areas, the result of wear are abundant.

How to Video: Grading Jefferson Nickels

The above images are often all that is necessary to recognize the condition of an old 1946 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

Cleaning a Jefferson Nickel Lowers Value

One of the first impressions when viewing a group of old Jefferson nickels is the range of toning (color) displayed. Bright silver-grey tones on many and some are with soft deeper greys mixed with tan and brown. These different appearances are the result of decades of toning, a natural occurrence. Coins with natural surfaces are sought by collectors. Any attempt to "improve" a coin lowers appeal. Cleaning, brushing or wiping the surface removes originality, part of the value in any coin.

A Cleaned Jefferson Nickel Compared to Non Cleaned Nickels

The image displays a group of old silver nickels representing original surfaces and natural toning, except one. Despite the small amounts of wear these silver nickels are appealing to collectors. This group of pleasing circulated examples are affordable to any new or young collector, adding to their collectability.

In the center is one coin that is distinctly different in appearance from the rest. Its overall color is lacking any vibrance and range of shading. Its surface shows all the signs of a past cleaning. When compared to the others in the image the cleaned coin is dull and unappealing. It is an easy decision by collectors to pass on any Jefferson nickel showing signs of cleaning. The cleaned nickel is not included in any collection.

Handling your coins by edges and inspecting the surface are important efforts in judging value. Any effort into cleaning the coin results in lowering value.


U.S. Mint. 1947 U.S. Mint Annual Report
U.S. Mint. 1946 U.S. Mint Annual Report.

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