Coin Value Finder » 1954 Nickel Value: are “D”, “S”, No mint mark worth money?

1954 Nickel Value: are “D”, “S”, No mint mark worth money?

The nickel is one of the cornerstones of American currency. And although it’s only worth five cents, it’s been a hotly collected coin for many years, beaming with history.

The 1954 nickel is arguably one of the most popular coins in today’s market. Not only was this year the start of the American Civil Rights movement, but it was a period when coin collecting became a popular hobby for Americans.

Every day, more and more 1954 nickels appear across the country. And people often wonder just how valuable an old five-cent coin might be. This article will explore everything you need to know about valuing your 1954 nickel. We’ll see if your nickel is worth something considerably more.

1954 Nickel Details

1954 Nickel Details

  • Type: Jefferson Five Cents
  • Mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco
  • Total Mintage: Over7,491,750,000
  • Obverse designer: Felix Schlag
  • Reverse designer: Felix Schlag
  • Edge: Plain
  • Diameter: 2 mm
  • Thickness: 95 mm
  • Composition: Copper (95%), Zinc (5%) 
  • Weight: 5 grams
  • Face Value: $0.05

The 1954 nickel is a classic coin with roots as far back as 1913. Based on founding father and third US president Thomas Jefferson, the original coin wasn’t that popular among minters, as the complicated design often broke die when cast.

By 1938, the overall design of the nickel changed when an open competition led Felix Schlag to recreate the Jefferson portrait. The obverse side of the coin has a profile view of Jefferson, with the lettering ‘In God we Trust’ and ‘Liberty 1954’ surrounding him. On the reverse side is a depiction of Monticello, Jefferson’s home, with the Latin phrase ‘E PLURIBUS UNUM’, meaning ‘Out of many, one.’

Including Monticello became a valuable, unofficial metric to grade the quality of the 1954 coin. Known as the “steps” system, if the front of the building was clearly defined, the coin would be worth considerably more.

The 1950s saw a boom in the US economy, thanks in part to the victory in World War 2. Both copper and nickel were used to produce the coins, providing them with a high-quality finish and long-lasting structure. They weighed 5 grams, had a large diameter of 21.2mm, and had smooth, plain edging.

The 1954 nickels were minted in Denver, San Francisco, and Phildaldpeia. Denver and San Francisco have mint marks, D and S, respectively, whereas Philadelphia has no such spot on their coins.

A unique feature of many nickel coins in 1954 is a faulty mint mark; some coins have both D and S marks printed on top of each other, which experts believe was a result of widespread production errors at the minting facilities. These unusual errors can help increase the coin’s value considerably.

In today’s market, the 1954 Jefferson nickel is quite unpredictable. While it is still commonly found in circulation, several unique coins in mint condition have sold for thousands of dollars at auction.

Also Read: 15 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money

Value chart

1954 Nickel Value Chart
Mint Mark Good Fine Extremely Fine Uncirculated
1954 No Mint Nickel $0.05 $0.05 $0.05 $25
1954 Proof Nickel $0.05 $0.05 $0.05 $20+
1954 S Nickel $0.05 $0.05 $0.05 $28
1954 D Nickel $0.05 $0.05 $0.05 $35

Unfortunately, the 1954 nickel was one of the most mass-produced coins. Although people showed an interest in coin collecting, so many coins were produced in this decade that their overall value by today’s standard has fallen.

That said, a high-quality, preserved 1954 nickel can still fetch a high price in specific auctions.

Below is an essential guide to the four most common value categories:

  • Good is when the coin’s design is outlined but missing key details. There may be signs of wear and tear
  • Fine – this is when coins have few visible details, some of which may be worn away.
  • Extremely fine – the coin has only light wear over high points. There may be signs of mint luster (sheen).
  • Uncirculated means that the coin presumably never went into public circulation and is in extremely good, if not pristine, condition. There are only trace amounts of use, with medium to full luster. 

Also Read: Top 110 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money

1954 Nickel Value and Varieties Guides

Below are four variations of the 1954 nickel, along with average estimations of their value:

1954 No mint nickel value

1954 No mint nickel

  • Type: Jefferson Five Cents
  • Edge: Plain
  • Mint mark: No mint mark
  • Place of minting: Philadelphia
  • Year of minting: 1954
  • Face value: $0.05
  • $ Price: $0.05 – $25
  • Quantity produced: Over 47,917,350
  • Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Composition: Copper (75%), Nickel (25%) 
  • Mass: 5 grams

While Phildaldepia made two kinds of 1954 nickels, the generic coin with no maker mark is arguably the lowest-valued coin in today’s market.

If your coin does not have a letter imprinted, it was made in Philadelphia. There are an estimated 47 million minted coins from this year, and as such,  there is no shortage today – this makes their demand and value relatively low.

As such, most of these coins will sell for between 5-15c. But like any coin, if pristine, it may go as high as $20.

1954 proof nickel value

1954 proof nickel

  • Type: Jefferson Five Cents
  • Edge: Plain
  • Mint mark: No mint mark
  • Place of minting: San Francisco
  • Year of minting: 1954
  • Face value: $0.25
  • $ Price: $20 – $1,000+
  • Quantity produced: 233,300
  • Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Composition: Copper (75%), Nickel (25%) 
  • Mass: 5 grams

The 1950s saw considerable interest in coin collecting. To tap into this trend, the Philadelphia mint produced a limited range of Proof coins, whose purpose was not to be circulated but collected.

With just 233,300 issued, there can be a lot of interest in owning these coins. Like the generic coin produced in Philadelphia, these proofs do not have a mint mark.

Depending on the condition and appearance, coins can range from a respectable $20 to thousands of dollars. Some have exceeded market expectations, like this coin which sold for $7,475.

1954 S nickel

1954 S nickel

  • Type: Jefferson Five Cents
  • Edge: Plain
  • Mint mark: Letter ‘S.’
  • Place of minting: San Francisco
  • Year of minting: 1954
  • Face value: $0.05
  • $ Price: $0.05 – $28
  • Quantity produced: Over 29,384,000
  • Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Composition: Copper (75%), Nickel (25%) 
  • Mass: 5 grams

Because of the increased hoarding in the 1950s, the 1954 nickel was one of the last 5-cent coins minted in San Francisco for over ten years.

You can identify this coin by its signature ‘S’ maker mark on the coin. And though production ceased temporarily, these coins are still relatively common. As such, they will only fetch between 5-10c on face value, $28 if of high quality and grading.

That said, unique coins with unmatched detail have been known to break auction records, like this 1954 S nickel that sold for an incredible $35,250 in 2020. These coins are seen as one-of-a-kind, though.

1954 D nickel

1954 D nickel

  • Type: Jefferson Five Cents
  • Edge: Plain
  • Mint mark: Letter ‘D.’
  • Place of minting: Denver
  • Year of minting: 1954
  • Face value: $0.05
  • $ Price: $0.05 – $35
  • Quantity produced: Over 117,136,560
  • Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Composition: Copper (75%), Nickel (25%) 
  • Mass: 5 grams

The final nickel variation is the D nickel, which, as the maker mark suggests, was minted in Denver. Upwards of 117,136,560 coins were minted here, one of the highest on record for the site at the time.

Because of this massive production number, the value of D nickels isn’t that high, averaging at face value in most cases. That said, if you have an uncirculated coin with precise detailing, it can increase up to $35 on sale.

In rare instances, 1954 D nickels can sell for record-breaking amounts, like this coin which sold for $9,963.75 in 2020, because of its high-quality and precise detailing.

Also Read: Top 19 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels Worth Money

1954 Nickel History

The production of the Jefferson nickel started in 1938. At this time, the US congress was keen to replace the previous design after its legalization expired.

Then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt petitioned for 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson, to be the new face of the coin. A design competition of nickel was opened in 1938, which asked designers to use a portrait of Thomas Jefferson and his Monticello mansion.

With over 390 entries, German sculptor Felix Schlag was declared the winner, whose initials weren’t included in the first and subsequent coin series. They were added from 1966 onwards.

Over the years, the Jefferson nickel has undergone several changes, mirroring world events and the state of the US economy. Nickel was a strategic resource during World War 2, and the government wanted to use substitute materials.

They also needed to ensure that whatever agents they used could still be monitored by counterfeit vending machines. This is why they adopted a copper-silver-manganese alloy.

Following the war, the US economy boomed, and the production of nickel coins reverted to using copper (75%) and nickel (25%) exclusively. At this time, coin-collecting became incredibly popular, fueling more production of coins. Upwards of 168 million nickel coins were made in just one year. Ironically, this increased production has generally reduced the value of the coins by today’s standards.

Despite mass production and diminished value, nickels still proved popular collectibles. This is because the 1950s was a period of immense change and historical significance in the US. The Civil Rights Movement began this year, and the Cold War remained.  

One of the most notable features of this nickel is, in fact, a fault. The maker mark, representing production location, often has an ‘S’ mark (San Francisco) and a ‘D’ (Denver) overlapping in what many experts believe was a widespread production error.

Several other faults or errors can transform this ordinary 5-cent coin into something worth hundreds, if not thousands, at auction.

1954 Nickel Grading

Coins follow a specific grading system to calculate and categorize their value. This ranges from the quality of the coin, and any possible faults or variations that make it particularly unique.

Below is a useful guide on how best to value your 1954 nickel:

List of 1954 Nickel Errors

An error, fault, or variation can make your 1954 nickel look unique and sell for a premium at auction.

Below are some  of the most common faults:

1. 1954 Nickel Mark Error

1954 Nickel Mark Error

The maker mark error in 1954 nickels is among the unique errors to find. This is when the letter D, which usually denotes Denver, is printed underneath the S mark, used for San Francisco.

A possible reason is that dies meant for San Francisco were incorrectly made, and someone tried to rectify the problem by re-striking coins.

As exciting and unique as these coins look, it also increases their value considerably. Nickels featuring his error regularly sell for $100 to $242 at auction.

2. 1954 Nickel Double Die Error

1954 Nickel Double Die Error

A double die error is when the coin strikes two or three times or whose impressions are misaligned. The result is a picture or text featured more than once on the coin face. A high-quality nickel with a double die error can go for $3,800 or more at auction.

3. 1954 Nickel Off-Center Errors

1954 Nickel Off-Center Errors

If the coin is misplaced, or the dies aren’t properly aligned, the portrait of Jefferson can be off-center, at an angle, or partially cut off on the coin. The bigger the offset, the more valuable the coin becomes. Nickles with this error can range in price from $10 to $100.

4. 1954 Nickel levels of detail

The 1954 nickel was known to many for having a low die strike, meaning many of the details on the Jefferson portrait and the building of Monticello aren’t clearly defined.

While not technically a fault, coins with greater detail and definition (e.g., clearly showing the steps in front of the building) are worth far more, selling for up to $2,280 at auction.

1954 Nickel Value FAQ

What makes the 1954 nickel so popular?

One of the most defining things about the 1954 nickel is its design or composition, not necessarily the period t was released. 1954 was the start of the Civil Rights movement in America, and coins of that year are often collected to represent that period.

What was the highest-priced 1954 nickel in history?

One of the most expensive coins ever at auction happened to be a 1954 nickel. It sold for an unbelievable $35,250, largely down to its impeccable quality and condition.

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