As you may know, during WWII, the US minted Jefferson Nickels with a 35% silver alloy. War Nickels are a fairly common find here in the South. My theory is their novelty, coupled with soldiers coming back from WWII with a little money in their pockets, may have resulted in children receiving them and proceeding to lose them. In fact, I’d bet that is pretty much the story on your average dug war nickel.
If you’ve never dug a war nickel, they are easily recognizable by the giant mint mark on the reverse above the dome. Though they are only 35% silver, I rightfully count them in my dug silver totals for each month or year.
I dug my 33rd War Nickel this month, and thought I’d share some statistics vs Mintages. Perhaps 33 dug nickels may not be a large enough sample to draw any real conclusions from, and also Note that all of these were dug in Tennessee and Mississippi, so geographical distribution of these coins may be a factor.
MY DUG WAR NICKEL COUNTS
1942: 6: 18%
1943: 18: 55%
1944: Zero!: 0%
1945: 9: 27%
Philadelphia (P): 24: 70%
San Francisco (S): 3: 10%
Denver (D): 6: 20%
For our purposes, I have rounded these to the nearest 5 Million and 5 %:
1942: 90 Million: 10%
1943: 390 Million: 45%
1944: 175 Million: 20%
1945: 215 Million: 25%
Philadelphia (P): 570 Million: 65 percent
San Francisco (S): 215 Million: 25 percent
Denver (D): 85 Million: 10 percent
Total Mintage: 870 Million
Comparisons of number of war nickels minted by year and mint shows that most War Nickels are 1943, and were produced in Philadelphia (P mint-mark). Though my finds fall in line generally with the mint numbers, it is interesting to me that I have never dug a 1944, though the mintage were basically twice those produced in 1942, and I’ve found 6 1942s.
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