1946 Nickel Value and Prices

One of the most recognizable US Mint coins is the 5-cent Jefferson nickel, which has been in circulation for over 80 years. On the obverse of their design is a portrait of Thomas Jefferson, the third American president.

The first ten years of the US Mint’s production of nickels are the most desirable to collectors, even though the coinage was produced from 1938 to the present. The 1946 nickel’s value typically depends on its condition, mintmark, and any existing errors or variations.

History of the 1946 Jefferson Nickel

1946 Jefferson Nickel

The US Mint announced the Buffalo nickel’s 25-year mandatory mintage in 1938. Without a congressional act, replacing that coin with a problematic design was finally possible.

The US Mint announced an open contest with a $1,000 prize pool in January 1938 for a new coin design. The contest received over 400 artist applications.

It was only natural to select the new design with a portrait of Jefferson on the obverse as the bicentennial of his birth approached. Felix Schlag, a German immigrant who won the contest, finished the winning design in only four weeks.

The president’s bust on display at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts inspired the sculpture created by a different artist. The reverse developed a theme based on Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s historic home.

The first reverse design had an angled view of Jefferson’s Monticello home. The commission members, however, didn’t like the sculptor’s writing style or this conceptual solution. Following these criticisms, Felix Schlag modified the original concept. He altered the font of the inscriptions, and Monticello was viewed from the front. It’s interesting to note that the author’s initials weren’t added to the design until 1966.

The Jefferson nickel’s appearance hasn’t changed significantly after those initial modifications. Nevertheless, during WWII, the US Mint underwent some structural changes. Finding a way to lessen nickel use was necessary due to the war industry’s need for metal. Congress approved 50% copper and 50% silver nickel in March 1942, but the performance was better in the alloy with 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese.

Since 1946, the US Mint has changed its composition back to the pre-war ratio of 75% copper and 25% nickel, classifying nickels without this metal as part of the war series.

Features of the 1946 Jefferson Nickel

Most of the 1946 Nickels were in use, just like other coins from the era. As a result of these factors, a large percentage of them are worn out, show obvious signs of age, and are unattractive to serious collectors.

The obverse of the 1946 Jefferson nickel

President Thomas Jefferson’s profile can be seen on the nickel’s obverse, facing left and taking up most of the coin’s center. He has a hairstyle typical for that period in the portrait. Two inscriptions are also visible on the obverse. The phrase IN GOD, WE TRUST, appears along the left coin rim in front of Jefferson’s profile. The word LIBERTY and the minting year are also visible along the right rim, separated by a small five-pointed star.

The reverse of the 1946 Jefferson nickel

Jefferson’s home, Monticello, which was constructed to his design and was influenced by the Italian Renaissance, can be seen in the reverse central section. The Italian word for a hill even appears in the name Monticello.

It’s interesting to note that Schlag accurately depicted this enormous structure with various details, including the octagonal dome and the stairs leading up to the building entrance. The Latin phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM is inscribed on the upper rim just above the Monticello dome.

Under the stairs, you can read the name of the building, MONTICELLO, and on the right side, you can see the mint mark. Along the bottom rim is the text UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and above it is the denomination of FIVE CENTS.

Other features of the 1946 Jefferson nickel

This year’s round, plain-edged Jefferson nickel is made up of 75% copper and nickel. This coin measures 0.83465 inches in diameter, 0.17637 ounces (5 g), and 0.07677 inches (1.95 mm) in thickness (21.2 mm).

SEE: 2005 Buffalo Nickel Value

1946 Jefferson Nickel Types

In 1946, three US mints produced nearly 220,000,000 Jefferson nickels. Due to the high mintage at all three mints—Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco—the value of circulated coins was low.

1946 Jefferson Nickel (No Mint Mark)

The Philadelphia mint typically produced the most 1946 Jefferson nickels, exactly 161,116,000 coins. This figure exceeded the overall circulation of the other mints by more than 100,000,000.

You can see that these pieces lack a mint mark, which distinguishes them from other nickels produced in the same year. Because the vast bulk of these coins was made available for use in everyday transactions, their market value has decreased.

Most specimens cost only 7 to 10 cents, barely more than their face value. Even mint-state coins don’t command very high prices, most of which can be purchased for under $20. However, some nickels that have been preserved well sell for a lot of money at auction. One collector, for instance, paid $1,763 for a 1946 Jefferson nickel in MS-67 condition.

The value of the other coin with appealing Full Steps increased significantly. At an auction, a 1946 FS Nickel in MS 67 grade brought in a whopping $8,812.50.

1946 S Jefferson Nickel

Due to their low mintage of only 13,560,000 pieces, the 1946 Jefferson nickels produced by the San Francisco mint are the rarest in the series. The S mint mark on the reverse makes them simple to identify.

The low mintage number has little impact on these specimens’ value in the current coin market. A circulated nickel in fair condition can be purchased for between 35 and 50 cents. You can get $13 for a piece with MS 67, and mint state coins can be worth a little more. At auctions, these sums are frequently considerably higher.

For example, the 1946 S MS 67 Nickel is worth nearly $3,000 after one such specimen sold for $2,875. On the other hand, items with the FS marking are more valuable; at an auction, the most expensive 1946 S MS 67 FS piece sold for $7,800.

1946 D Jefferson Nickel

In 1946, the Denver mint produced slightly more than 45,000,000 Jefferson nickels, ranking second in terms of production. On the back of each of these coins was the mint mark D.

Although the mintage of these coins is considerably lower than that of the Philadelphia coins, this has no bearing on their market value. An uncirculated coin with an MS 67 ranking is only worth $13, while a circulated piece in average condition costs only 10 cents.

However, some nickels sell for a lot of money at auctions. A 1946 D MS 67 Jefferson nickel was purchased by a collector for $1,265, while an example with the same grade and FS mark sold for an astounding $8,625.

SEE: Indian Head Penny Value

 1946 Jefferson Nickel Varieties and Errors

Different mistakes can be made during the minting process, and 1946 Jefferson nickels contain some imperfect coins. These specimens typically sell for a lot of money on the coin market.

Full Steps

The Full Steps gradation mark is applied to rare coins with five or six noticeable steps at the entrance to Monticello. These pieces have distinctly visible steps without contact marks, weak strikes, or planchet issues. Remember that Full Step Jefferson Nickels are worth more than regular Jefferson Nickels. For instance, the price per piece ranges from $8 to $6,600, depending on the condition and mint mark.

1946 Doubled Die Nickel

This error typically happens when the die strikes the same coin twice or three times. This error appears as a doubling in Thomas Jefferson’s eye on the obverse of the 1946 nickel. However, DDR is more frequent, and the inscriptions MONTICELLO and FIVE CENTS are the best places to spot this error.

Since a large percentage of coins only cost between 20 and 50 dollars, you shouldn’t anticipate making a sizable profit by selling them in average condition. However, a specimen with an MS 67 grade can fetch you up to $2,000.

1946 Off-Center Jefferson Nickel Error

  Since the 1946 off-center is the most typical error, these items are fairly affordable. Many collectors disregard them as technical errors because they are only 1% or 2% off-center. On the other hand, a piece with a 10% to 20% off-center error can fetch you between $25 and $50. The most expensive coins frequently reach $100 and have an off-center error of more than 50%.

Die Cuds Or Die Cracks

Collectors find unusual pieces fascinating because the die crack error coins result from a worn-out or damaged die. These can have a fracture line visible on the coin’s surface or have odd bumps created by the cracked die. Die cud, a coin rim crack, typically fetches more than $100.

Silver 1946 Jefferson Nickel

The US Mint resumed producing copper and nickel in 1946 after briefly minting silver and nickel during the war. Collectors found four unintentionally struck silver nickel transitional errors on a silver planchet. As you might anticipate, these coins are worth a lot of money. There may be a few more pieces, but since they all weigh the same, you can’t tell them apart from regular nickels. The best action is to consult an expert to ascertain the difference.

D/D Error

This error was made when the D mint mark was struck in the wrong direction or at an incorrect angle. In this situation, the attempt to correct the mistake results in the new D being visible over the first one. You can expect to receive between $630 and $2,500 for a coin with this flaw because it is relatively uncommon.

SEE: 1936 Buffalo Nickel Value

1946 Nickel Grading

Since the first postwar year’s coins are now more than 75 years old, you should be cautious when buying one. To accurately determine the value, it is imperative to check the condition.


1946 nickels in mint condition are the most valuable coins on the market because collectors prize them above all others. These pieces retained their original cleanliness, luster, and texture because they were never in use. So-called bag marks can occasionally be seen on the surface, but nothing else detracts from their elegance and beauty.

Extra Fine

Such coins look a little drab and have light wear after a few weeks or months of use. They also have a soft silver-tan tone. The highest design points have been slightly reduced but not flattened. The president’s eyes, brow, and cheek are clearly visible. Most collectors value these pieces because surface imperfections are hardly noticeable.


These coins have been in use for a long time, and you can see plenty of scratches and wear on the surface. Their primary design elements, such as the president’s profile and inscriptions, are largely unaltered. The problem is the occurrence of noticeable flat areas, especially on his cheek, shoulder, and hair.


Most 1946 Nickels spent years in circulation, losing their original beauty. There are obvious dings and scratches, and some are slightly bent. The only time coin collectors choose coins in this grade for their collections is when they are on a tight budget or cannot find better examples.

1946 Jefferson Nickel Value*
Quality19461946 S1946 D1946 D/D
Extra fine$0.5 to $0.6$0.5//
AU$0.7 to $1.1$0.7 to $1$0.5 to $1.1/
MS 60$1.6$1$1.8/
MS 61$1.8$1.1$2/
MS 62$2$1.1$2.1/
MS 63$2.6$1.5$2.4/
MS 64$5.4$5,4$4$650
MS 65$10.8$10.8$10.8$910
MS 66$27$33.7$20.7$1,750
MS 67$403$370$169$2,500


In 1946, the US Mint produced 219,968,000 Jefferson nickels, which are typically worthless as collectibles. Only those who enjoy the series can collect these low-cost coins; there is no need to search for specimens in any condition other than the mint state. To complete the date, you must locate all four of the variations that were issued this year.

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