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War Nickel : How to Identify These Valuable Nickels

1943-P Jefferson War Nickel.
1943-P Jefferson “War Nickel”. Notice the large mintmark above Monticello?

Sometimes referred to as “War Silver”, “Warnicks”, or “Wartime Silver”, the term “War Nickel” refers to the Jefferson five-cent coin produced from 1942 to 1945. These coins have distinctive features that make them more valuable than other Jefferson nickels struck before or after.

The United States Congress authorized the removal of nickel from the five-cent coin by October 8, 1942, in order to divert the metal toward vital wartime production. Title XII, § 642 of the Second War Powers Act had authorized the United States Mint to use a 50/50 alloy of silver and copper but gave the Mint discretion to change the proportions of this composition if that would better serve the American public’s needs. Jefferson “nickels” minted during the subsequent four-year period were made of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese.

Anticipating their removal from circulation at the end of the war, War Nickels feature oversized mint marks (P, D, or S) to make them easily identifiable – just look on the reverse above Monticello’s rotunda. Most were extracted soon after the completion of the war.

In 1946, the standard nickel composition (75% copper, 25% nickel) was resumed. Famous Henning counterfeits of the 1944-P issue did not include the mint mark and were therefore discovered by authorities.

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. You are talking about the War Nickles and they might be valuable, but when a grading company told me they are only worth face value of .5 cents. Hmmm is that true for my 1943 P nickle?

    • @Joseph Arsanis I’m not sure why they told you they’re only worth face value (btw 5 cents rather than 0.5 cents!) unless they were trying to scam you. At current metal prices their silver content alone is more than a dollar.

      P.S. the coin is a “nickel” rather than “nickle”.

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