Coin Value Finder » 1940 Nickel Value: are “D”, “S”, No mint mark worth money?

1940 Nickel Value: are “D”, “S”, No mint mark worth money?

The 1940 5-cent coin, also known as the Jefferson Nickel, is still in circulation today. However, the currency has changed several times over the years. This coin can be divided into three stages, with the 1940 coin belonging to the first stage, which has the original design and metal composition.

For a long time, collectors undervalued this coin, but it gradually gained relevance and interest at auctions.

Although its value has risen in recent years, it remains one of the most affordable coins for beginning collectors.

In this article, we will review the essential points that you must know to know how to evaluate a 1940 nickel correctly. We’ll cover its history, the different grades it possesses, and the most common mistakes collectors pay large sums of money for.

1940 Nickel Details

1940 Nickel Details

  • Category: Jefferson Five Cents (1938-Date)
  • Mint: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco
  • Mintage: 259,743,316
  • Obverse Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Reverse Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Composition: Copper-Nickel
  • Weight: 5g
  • Diameter: 21.2mm
  • Edge: Plain

This coin was designed to replace the Buffalo Nickel, which was a beautiful coin but extremely difficult to produce. Despite spending a lot of money to replace broken dies, the mint was never able to strike the buffalo nickel without errors or completely defined.

As a result, shortly after the coin’s 25th anniversary of circulation, the mint began to take steps to replace such a beautiful but problematic design.

Coins with the faces of former US presidents had already been minted by the end of the 1930s.

Thomas Jefferson happened to be the third president of the United States, as well as the third face of a president minted on a coin.

The coinage was minted at the mints in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco, with a total of 259,743,316 coins produced.

Felix Schlag created the coin after winning a public design competition and a $1000 prize.

The coin is made of copper and silver, but an amalgamation of other metals was later added because nickel was highly valued during the war.


The face of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States who was in charge of writing the Declaration of Independence, appears on the 1940 nickel. The image of Jefferson on the 5-cent coin is said to be based on a portrait by artist Jean-Antoine Houdon.

The truth is that this design was the winner of a public contest in which nearly 400 different designs were submitted. Thomas Jefferson is depicted in profile, looking to the left, and the phrase “IN GOD WE TRUST” appears on the coin’s left edge.

The word LIBERTY appears on the right edge of the coin, followed by a small star to distinguish it from the minting date, which appears below.


All mint officials approved the obverse design, but some changes were made to the reverse.

The coin was chosen through a contest, and all artists were instructed to create a design with Thomas Jefferson’s face on the obverse and Monticello’s house on the reverse.

The Monticello house was the main plantation of former President Jefferson, who inherited it from his parents when he was 26 years old.

Felix Schlag, a German artist who became an American citizen shortly before winning the design contest for the coin, had submitted a detailed and beautifully decorated image of the Monticello house.

However, mint officials did not like the idea because they had many problems with the Buffalo Nickel and its complicated design, so they requested that the reverse be redone with a frontal image of Monticello and no other elements.

The artist took the instructions to heart and presented a front design of the Jefferson plantation. Many people complained that the new design was too simple, lacking depth and grace.

In addition to the Monticello house, the reverse features the Latin phrase “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” which means “one of many” in the upper part of the coin.

The word MONTICELLO is written beneath the Monticello. This was done to ensure that people understood what the image on the back was because by modifying it and removing all detail, the drawing could be mistaken for that of any library or government entity at the time.

The phrase FIVE CENTS appears below the word MONTICELLO, and the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA appear on the coin’s lower edge.

The mint mark is on the coin’s right side, just to the side of the Monticello house. The mint mark was controversial because it was larger than usual, and it was considered to be reduced, but it was ultimately left alone.

This coin also lacks the artist’s initials, as Schlag forgot them in the original design. They put it several years later.

Also Read: 15 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money

1940 Nickel Value Chart

Quality 1940 Philadelphia Nickel 1940 San Francisco Nickel 1940 Denver Nickel
Good $0.1 $0.1 $0.1
Very Good $0.2 $0.2 $0.2
Fine $0.22 $0.22 $0.22
Very Fine $0.3 $0.4 $0.4
Extremely Fine $0.45 $0.6 $0.6
Uncirculated $0.85 $1.13 $1.13
MS 60 $1.13 $2.3 $2.55
MS63 $11 $17 $17

1940 Nickel Value and Varieties Guides

The Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver mints produced the 1940 nickel. There were a total of 259,743,316 coins produced.

It is not an expensive coin, on the contrary. It had almost nothing of value until a few years ago, but as the 80 years since its creation have passed, it has become of collectible value, and collectors have gradually taken it into account for their collections.

It is also a coin with several flaws, which we will discuss later, and how you can benefit from them.

1940 Philadelphia Nickel

1940 Philadelphia Nickel

  • Category: Jefferson Five Cents (1938-Date)
  • Mint: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 176,485,000
  • Obverse Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Reverse Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Composition: Copper-Nickel
  • Weight: 5g
  • Diameter: 21.2mm
  • Edge: Plain

The Philadelphia mint produced 176,485,000 coins. All Philadelphia-minted coins lack mint marks.

These coins are very incredibly cheap, and good condition copies can be found for less than a dollar. Even uncirculated or gem-quality coins are under $15 each.

Only coins in extremely high grades and with unique features can command high prices. An auction in 2021 sold a specimen as an MS 68 gem for $558. The sale of this coin is an exception because no collectors are willing to pay a lot of money for it.

On the other hand, former president Jefferson is still admired today, and people collect items related to him. The price of this type of coin can only be obtained under those circumstances.

However, you should be aware that the Philadelphia mint only produced 14,158 proof coins. As a result of their reduced number, their price rises.

It is possible to purchase one of these coins in good condition for $18.00, but the truly valuable ones are those that have been preserved and have never been circulated. In the best possible condition, one of these coins can be worth up to $8000.

1940 San Francisco Nickel

1940 San Francisco Nickel

  • Category: Jefferson Five Cents (1938-Date)
  • Mint: San Francisco
  • Mintage: 39,690,000
  • Obverse Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Reverse Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Composition: Copper-Nickel
  • Weight: 5g
  • Diameter: 21.2mm
  • Edge: Plain

In 1940, the San Francisco mint produced 39,690,000 coins. It had the smallest output of the three mints.

This, however, does not raise the price of this coin above that of Denver or Philadelphia. A good-condition copy costs 50 cents, while uncirculated coins can cost up to $17.

However, it is important to remember that at auctions, coins can increase in value for a variety of reasons. Some collectors do not care about the coin’s actual value and may want it for other reasons.

We believe this was the case for a coin that sold for $1,840 in the year 2000.

Look for the “S” growth mark on the reverse of the coin, just to the right of the image of the Monticello house, to determine if your coin is from the San Francisco mint.

1940 Denver Nickel

1940 Denver Nickel

  • Category: Jefferson Five Cents (1938-Date)
  • Mint: Denver
  • Mintage: 43,540,000
  • Obverse Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Reverse Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Composition: Copper-Nickel
  • Weight: 5g
  • Diameter: 21.2mm
  • Edge: Plain

43,500,000 coins were minted at the Denver Mint. Like San Francisco or Philadelphia coins, they are easy to get and very cheap. You only need about 25 cents to purchase a copy in good condition.

If you want one that has not been in circulation, prices vary from 2 to 17 dollars.

However, you can always get interesting proposals in different public or online auctions. In 2018, a gem-quality specimen MS 67 sold for $795.

To identify Denver coins, look for the letter “D” on the reverse of the coin, to the right of the Monticello house.

Also Read: Top 110 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money

1940 Nickel History

After the Buffalo nickel had been in circulation for 25 years, former President Jefferson’s 5-cent coin was minted in 1938.

Those in charge of coin production were eager to know when the old nickel would be replaced because it was causing so many problems in the minting houses. Many dies were broken, and the specimens never yielded the best results.

As a consequence, they organized a public contest for artists from all over the country with the slogan that they present a new design with Thomas Jefferson’s face and the famous Monticello house.

It was one of the few occasions when a contest was held with specific design guidelines. Because there were not many artists who submitted works, it was initially assumed that the contest would fail, as it had done previously.

However, a large number of artists submitted their designs before the deadline for submissions expired. A total of 390 works were presented, and the winner was Felix Schlag, a German immigrant who had recently obtained US citizenship.

He won a $1,000 prize, which outperformed many previous contests where artists were uninterested because the prize was unsatisfactory.

However, the design did not appeal to all mint officials, who requested that Schlag change the reverse of the coin to avoid minting issues.

The president of the Fine Arts Commission, which is in charge of reviewing the currency, also suggested that the position of the United States of America be changed. This was not done, and production began on October 3, 1938, without a hitch.

1940 Nickel Grading

The value of collector coins will always be determined by their degree of conservation. For coins that have been in circulation, they are graded from good to extra fine.

Coins that have never been in circulation have grades and are regarded as gem quality. To help you understand how to value this coin, we’ve included a video with detailed information on which coins are worth more and how to identify them.

List of 1940 Nickel Errors

This coin contains several errors, which are important to understand because they affect the price at which you can sell them. In addition to explaining the most common errors, we’ve included a video where you can delve into the marks you should look for.

1. 1940 Nickel Full Steps

1940 Nickel Full Steps

This is one of the most well-known errors, and collectors pay a high price for it. Occasionally, the steps of the staircase in Monticello’s house are not clearly defined on the reverse of the coin. If your coin has 5 or 6 well-defined degrees, it is considered very valuable and can cost up to $10,000.

2. 1940 Nickel with cracks

1940 Nickel with cracks

This error occurs because the array is out of date. As a result, the coin’s edges crack. Coins with this error can be worth between $50 and $100. You should also keep in mind that if the coin has cracks on the surface, its value can rise by another $50.

1940 Nickel FAQ

What is special about a 1940 nickel?

The 1940 nickel is nothing special, but the Philadelphia Mint minted 14,158 proof coins that year, and those specimens can cost thousands of dollars. The 1940 nickel gradually increases in value over time.

What’s a 1940 nickel made of?

The 1940 coins are made of copper with a percentage of nickel that is responsible for giving it a silver appearance. Later the coins would change to 35% silver and the rest was an amalgamation of various metals.

Also Read: Top 19 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels Worth Money

Leave a Comment