Ned Ludd Coins » 1943 Nickel Value: are “P”, “S”, “D” worth money?

1943 Nickel Value: are “P”, “S”, “D” worth money?

The 1943 nickel may have a face value of only 5 cents but it is a pretty fascinating coin from a historical perspective and it’s pretty beloved by collectors and numismatists. What makes it special is a combination of factors such as Jefferson’s bicentennial, the Second World War, and everything it entailed, as well as this nickel’s composition. So, let’s get into the 1943 nickel value, variants, errors, and other details.

1943 Nickel Details

  • Category: Jefferson Five Cents (1938-Date)
  • Mint: San Francisco, Philadelphia, Denver
  • Mintage: 390,519,000
  • Obverse Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Reverse Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Composition: 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese
  • Diameter: 21.2 mm
  • Edge: Plain
  • Fineness: 0.35
  • Weight: 5 g

The famous Jefferson nickel or half-dime coins started getting minted in 1938 and many of them are still in circulation today. Originally, they were made with nickel in them instead of silver (hence the nickname), however, the Second World War forced the Mint to briefly go back to putting silver in their 5-cent coins – we’ll expand more on that below.

That presence of silver does make the 1943 nickel more valuable, however, as does its historical significance. So, let’s take a look at a value chart for the 1943 nickel and explain how its grading works.

1943 Nickel Value Chart

Mint mark Good (G 4) Fine (F 12) Extremely Fine (EF 40) Uncirculated (MS/PF 60) Mint State (MS/PF 65) MS/PF 68+
1943 P Nickel Value $1.40 $1.98 $3.19 $6.08 $10+ n/a
1943 S Nickel Value $1.51 $2.09 $2.93 $6.08 $23 $1,000+
1943 D Nickel Value $1.51 $2.09 $4.27 $7.03 $23 n/a

1943 Nickel Value and Varieties Guides

As with most other coins, the 1943 nickel was minted from all three US Mints – in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver. Very often, the three different Mints will have slight variations in the coins they produce even though they are supposed to be the same. This makes differentiating between the San Francisco, Denver, and Philly Mints important for collectors.

1943 S Nickel

1943 S Nickel
Credit: USA coin book
  • Place of minting: San Francisco
  • Mint mark: S
  • Year of minting: 1943
  • Quantity produced: 104,060,000
  • Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Edge: Plain

The San Francisco mintage of 1943 nickels is a peculiar one but also a wonderful example of how numismatics and the value of coins work. The S mint of the 1943 nickel set is famous for being of such high quality that even MS 65 coins from the 1943 S nickel sell for only about $10.

Granted, there are exceptions – there are MS65-68 S coins of the 1943 set that have sold for over $1,500 and even up to $2.800 but those are due to specific errors and variations in individual coins. In the general case, it’s not that uncommon for certain coins of lower quality grades to sell for more than higher quality ones simply because the former are rarer than the latter.

1943 D Nickel

1943 D Nickel

  • Place of minting: Denver
  • Mint mark: D
  • Year of minting: 1943
  • Quantity produced: 15,294,000
  • Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Edge: Plain

Even though the Denver mintage of the 1943 nickel was by far the lowest of the three, 1943 coins with the D mint mark don’t necessarily sell for more than those with P or S. Some might, if they have a specific and alluring error such as DDO. But, overall, a flawless D nickel from 1943 will usually sell for less than a flawless P nickel of the same year because of the latter’s mint mark.

1943 P Nickel

1943 P Nickel

  • Place of minting: Philadelphia
  • Mint mark: P
  • Year of minting: 1943
  • Quantity produced: 271,165,000
  • Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Edge: Plain

The Philadelphia Mint produced the largest chunk of 1943 nickels – way over two-thirds of the total number. You’d think this would make 1943 nickels with a P mint mark less valuable but that’s not really the case.

For one, the Philadelphia Mint didn’t use to have any mint marks on their coins prior to 1980 – this makes the 1943 P Nickel a pretty major exception. The Philly Mint did add a rare mint mark on all of the 1942-1945 “Silver War Nickels” so that they can be identified more easily and extracted back after the war because of their 35% silver contents.

This, in turn, makes 1943 P nickels quite valuable. For example, an MS 68 1943 P nickel has been sold for $780 while an MS 68 FS 1943 P nickel with full steps was once sold for $2,760.

Also Read: 15 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money

1943 Nickel History

1943 is the fifth consecutive year that Jefferson nickels were minted with the first being in 1938. Back then, the Jefferson nickel replaced the old Buffalo Five Cent coin which featured a buffalo on the reverse and Buffalo Bill on the obverse. The reason for the change was that the Buffalo nickel had been in use since 1913 and the traditional 25-year period for minting a coin had passed.

There was a reason why Jefferson was chosen as the face for the new nickel too – it was close to the bicentennial of his birthday. As Jefferson was born In 1743, 1938 was just 5 years away from the ex-president’s bicentennial so the choice made sense.

And, naturally, this means that the 1943 nickel, while not the first to bear Jefferson’s bust, is the actual birthday coin as well as the reason why Jefferson was picked in the first place. This is one of the many reasons why the 1943 nickel is beloved by numismatists but let’s get into some of the others too.

Another historical tidbit and the elephant in the room in 1943 is the World War II. This is why the 1943 nickel is often also called “the War Nickel”. In fact, nickels produced between 1942 and 1945 are famous as “the Silver War Nickel set” and are highly valued by collectors because of the significance of the time period.

The “silver” part of the above nickname is not accidental either and is also quite significant. By the start of the Second World War, the US Mint had started phasing silver out of certain coins with low face value such as the half dime. The reason for that was that silver had started appreciating at the time and certain coins were just worth more melted than as a currency.

So, a lot of people were simply stashing silver coins away to melt them later or were straight up melting them and reselling the silver which made the Mint’s efforts of creating enough coins for circulation somewhat futile.

So, the solution that started getting implemented in the early 20th century for low-value coins like the half-dime and the dime was to reduce and eventually remove the silver from their composition. The typical replacement for silver was the nickel metal as it was able to create a similar color but was much less valuable and wouldn’t drive people to stash coins. Hence the half-dime’s nickname – a nickel.

Once the war broke out in the early 40s, however, that trend was halted and reversed. The reason for that was that nickel had become a highly valuable metal in the early 40s because it was needed for the war effort. So, even though silver was still quite valuable as well, the Mint temporarily stopped using nickel and went back to silver – hence why the 1942 to 1945 nickels are famous as “the Silver War Nickel set.”

Even then, the Mint made sure that the coins’ composition includes as little silver as possible to dissuade stashing. That’s why the 1943 nickel’s composition is 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. Once the war was over and the military industrial complex didn’t need as much nickel, the Mint went back to phasing silver out of coins and the nickel once against had actual nickel in it.

Needless to say, the presence of even just 35% silver in the 1943 nickel is another reason why this coin is sought-after today, alongside Jefferson’s bicentennial and the historic value of the “War nickel”.

What’s more, Jefferson nickels are still in circulation today and have continued getting minted up until the time of writing this, effectively ending the 25-year tradition that replaced the Buffalo Bill nickel with the Jefferson nickel.

Also Read: Top 110 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money

1943 Nickel Grading

Even though Jefferson nickels are still in circulation today, that’s because they’ve continued getting minted year after year. 1943 nickels, in particular, aren’t very common, however, both because of the 80 years since their mintage and because they are quite sought-after by collectors and numismatists.

This means that finding a well-preserved 1943 nickel can be very valuable as most coins that went into wide circulation have way too much wear and tear on them to be worth collecting. What’s usually used to judge a coin’s quality/preservation are scales such as the Sheldon coin grading scale which ranks the visual quality of coins on a scale between 1 to 70.

In such scales, everything lower than 50 usually isn’t worth much over its face value and things only start getting monetarily appealing for collectors past the 60th-grade mark. With the 1943 nickel, however, you’ll notice that even at a quality rating of 4, the coin is usually worth about $1,50 – 30 times its face value of 5 cents.

Once we get past the 60th-grade mark, 1943 nickels are usually worth over $6 and $23 past MS/PF 65. The rarest and most valuable 1943 nickels have been sold for over $1,000, although that requires the coin to have some interesting production quirks or errors on it too.

Also Read: Top 19 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels Worth Money

Lists of 1943 Nickel Errors

With 1943 nickels there are lots of errors to watch out for which is another factor that contributes to their potentially very high prices. Here are a few examples:

1943 Nickel Struck on the Wrong Planchet

1943 Nickel Struck on the Wrong Planchet
Credit: eBay

Because of their commonly small size, nickels can often be stricken on various planchets that weren’t really right for this coin. Examples of this include an Australian six-pence planchet, a Cupronickel planchet, or a Penny planchet. In either of those cases, you can expect your nickel to sell for quite a lot, often in the 4 or 5 digits.

The easiest way to recognize a nickel minted on the wrong planchet is the weight as a nickel is supposed to weigh around 5 grams but most pennies or other similar coins weigh about 3 grams.

1943 Nickel Retained Lamination Flap Error

1943 Nickel Retained Lamination Flap Error
Credit: coins.ha

These errors are easy to recognize as they lead to parts of the surface of the coin chipping off with the lamination. If you see chips or flaking off of Jefferson’s face, a lamination error is very likely.

1943 Nickel D/D RPM Error

1943 Nickel D/D RPM Error

An RPM error stands for a “re-punched mint mark” error. This occurs when the mint mark of the coin has accidentally been punched twice. This is fairly common in coins before 1989 as their mint marks were struck manually.

1943 Nickel Struck Off-Centre

1943 Nickel Struck Off-Centre

If the planchet has shited in between the die’s strikes, this can lead to an off-center minting. Depending on the severity of the issue, this can bump up the coin’s price by quite a bit.

1943 Nickel FAQ

What Makes A 1943 Nickel Rare?

1942-1945 nickels are rare by definition because they had a pretty short run and a lot of them were recalled because of the silver in them. 1943 nickels are even more valuable and rare because they are Jefferson’s bicentennial nickels. From there, great quality and rare errors further contribute to individual coins’ rarity and value.

What Is The Melt Value Of A 1943 Nickel?

As of the time of writing, the melt value of a 1943 nickel is ~$1,31. This is significantly more than the $0.05 face value of the coin but it’s less than the average $2,75 for 1943 nickels in a very fine condition (and more for better quality) so melting a 1943 nickel is definitely ill-advised.

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