War Nickels from 1942 to 1945 Contain Silver

War Nickels from 1942 to 1945 Contain Silver

The Jefferson War Nickel

During World War II, Nickel was a much needed metal as a strengthening agent in steel parts such as airplane turbine engines. Likewise, Copper was also in high demand, and the Nickel’s metal composition was changed.  As a result, the 5 cent coin, or US Nickel composition was changed to silver and manganese.  Silver was substituted for the nickel content due to similarities in weight.

Whenever a change in metallic content is made in circulated coinage, US laws require that a design change is implemented to reflect the metallic changes made.  For the “War Nickel” a large Mint Mark was added above the Monticello building on the reverse of the coin.


1942-p-wartime-jefferson-nickelThe 1942 Jefferson war nickel marks the first time the Philadelphia Mint ever used a ‘P’ mint mark on a United States coin.

War Nickels are easy to identify by the visible mint mark on the reverse.  Look for a P, D, or S mint mark on the reverse side of the Nickel.  Over Fifty Million war nickels were produced between 1942 and 1945.  These nickels contain 35% Silver content and hold a value of between 25 and 50 cents depending on condition.

The silver war nickels went into production on October 8, 1942, only a few months before the metallic composition of Lincoln pennies changed to steel in 1943, also to help ration copper for war munitions.

* Note that Some 1942 war nickels were produced without silver content.

These will have a small ‘D’ or ‘S’ mint mark to the right of Monticello on the reverse or in the case of Philadelphia minted coins, no mint mark at all.

To learn more about the value of War Nickels and other U.S. coins, check out:

Guide Book of United States Coins 2017 on Amazon.com


War Nickels can still be found while metal detecting.  War Nickels are also one of the VALUABLE COINS FOUND IN POCKET CHANGE, so be sure to take a second look at your nickels.  Another place to find War Nickels is in ‘coin rolls.’

Coin roll hunting requires purchasing boxes of rolled coins and searching them for valuable coins.

With a little effort You may just find a war nickel with 35% Silver content!


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Feature Image: Armstrong Economics


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