A Dave's Collectible Coins Article

Why War Nickels are so Special

Often, coin collectors seem to have a tendency to gravitate to older coins. Why? Hard to say. But, the concept of collecting is more engaging when older items are involved. The history of the item being collected, the number of different owners it’s had, how far it’s traveled, and what that item has been through make it interesting. It can make older collectibles far more desirable for collector’s purposes than newer collectible items are.

1942 P Jefferson Silver War Nickel

War nickels embody that principle to the very fullest. But what are war nickels, exactly? First one must understand the Jefferson nickel, observe a war nickel and then one can see the differences involved. Notice, for example, the distinguished mint mark on the reverse.

Jefferson nickels were issued for the very first time in the year of 1938. These coins feature, as we all know very well, an image of America’s third President, Thomas Jefferson, on the obverse side. His home, the Monticello, is featured on the reverse side of the coin.

1943 P Jefferson Silver War Nickel

During World War II, the United States was forced to change the composition of the Jefferson nickel. Due to the war effort, the metal nickel was in high demand. Nickel was used in artillery and armor plate. In order to meet this high demand, nickel was removed from the five cent piece and replaced with silver. In October of 1942, the five cent coin was issued with an alloy of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese to list it off correctly. Conversely, this inherently differed with the previous alloy which included the important 25% nickel and 75% copper.

The war nickels are special by themselves. They are different and they represent a pivotal time in our history. These coins are beauties and are quite exciting and fun to find. They stand out due to metal oxidation on their surfaces. Their intrinsic worth and their collectible value can differ too, depending on the grade of the coin, which makes them even more special.

To get a better look at one in particular, PCGS currently lists an MS 66 1942 silver war nickel minted at the San Francisco Mint which recently sold at auction for $24.99. It has a PCGS Price Guide listed value of $28.00. Wow right? $28.00 for a coin that’s technically only worth $0.05? Although this is an impressive price for a nickel to say the least, others can value even more depending on rarity and condition of the coin and what its year and mint mark is.

War nickels are important coins to say the least. We get a lot of enjoyment out of them. They are fun to collect, and they are a good start-up collecting item for the prospective and interested new hobbyist. In addition to that, they are smart coins to collect for experienced and veteran coin collectors alike.

1944 D Jefferson War Nickel

War nickels are one of those coins that have multiple incentives for collecting them too. For example, people collect them for the collector’s value of the coins, as they are old coins and have collector’s value. Also, there is the silver content in the coin and the value which this creates for the coin. For example, silver, when it was at almost fifty dollars an ounce in 1980 caused the worst condition war nickel to be worth about two and a half dollars or more. No matter what condition they were in, they were worth more and more and the price for them just kept going up.

1945 D Jefferson War Nickel

This is actually why a lot of people collect war nickels, as they are doubly valuable and appreciated. War nickels are a great choice for any collector, whether novice or experienced.

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