Do you have a 1948 nickel and wonder how much it is worth? Jefferson nickels are a collectors’ favorite, and depending on the condition, your coin might be worth more than face value.
What’s more, the 1948 nickel value might shoot up if you have a rare error coin or if the coin is in mint state and looks as good as new.
If you are curious about how much a 1948 nickel is worth, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you will get a brief introduction to the history of the 1948 nickel and learn about its interesting features. You will also discover the value of the 1948 Jefferson nickel varieties and errors that might be worth hundreds of thousands if you know what to look for.
So, let’s jump in!
1948 Nickel Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||Uncirculated|
|1948 No Mintmark Nickel Value||$0.35||$0.35||$0.40||$1,650|
|1948 D Nickel Value||$0.30||$0.80||$0.90||$867|
|1948 S Nickel Value||$0.30||$0.55||$0.60||$1,200|
History of the 1948 Nickel
The 1948 nickel belongs to the Jefferson nickel coin series. The Jefferson nickel replaced the Buffalo nickel and was first minted as the five-cent coin in 1938.
The Buffalo nickel was first struck in 1913, and the U.S. Mint would produce these coins for 25 years. The public and the Mint disliked the Buffalo nickel; apart from its unpopular design, it was difficult to coin. So, as soon as the 25-year term was over, the Mint began plans to replace the Buffalo coin.
In early 1938, the Mint launched a competition to find the next designer for a Jefferson nickel. The coin would feature Thomas Jefferson, the founding father and third president of the United States of America. Jefferson’s house, Monticello, would also be featured on the coin’s reverse.
In the end, artist Felix Schlag won the competition, but he had to make several changes to his original design before the new nickel would go into production. Minting of the Jefferson nickel began in October 1938 and has continued since.
Nickel was an important material during World War II, which the U.S. was a part of. Congress, therefore, instructed that the nickel be made out of some copper and some silver, with the Mint having the option to mix in other metals to reduce production costs.
The Mint’s greatest job was to find a metal mix that would not use nickel but still be recognizable by the counterfeit detecting machines. Eventually, the Mint found that a balance of 56% copper, 36% silver and 9% manganese would be the most suitable alloy. It used this alloy to produce nickels starting 1942 onwards.
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Features of The 1948 Nickel
Let us look at the features of the 1948 nickel that can help you know how to grade the value of your coin.
The Obverse of The 1948 Nickel
The obverse is the front-facing side of a coin, also known as heads. The obverse of the 1948 nickel features the left-facing profile of the founding father and third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson.
The profile on the coin’s obverse closely resembles Jefferson’s bust done by sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. This bust is today found at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
The motto IN GOD WE TRUST is imprinted around the left edge of the coin.
The word LIBERTY and the year of production, 1948, are inscribed around the coin’s right edge. In between the word and the year is a single star.
The Reverse of The 1948 Nickel
The reverse is the backside of a coin, also known as the tails. The reverse of the 1948 Jefferson nickel features the President’s residence in plain view, fondly known as Monticello. The name MONTICELLO is spelled horizontally right below the house.
The motto E PLURIBUS ENUM is inscribed around the top of the coin’s reverse. The coin’s denomination, FIVE CENTS, and the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA are inscribed around the bottom.
Other Features of The 1948 Nickel
The U.S. Mint produced a total of 89,348,000 1948 Jefferson nickels across all three mints, namely Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.
Each nickel is made of 75% copper and 25% nickel, but this changed starting in 1942 under the authorization of Congress.
Each 1948 nickel weighs 5 grams and measures 21.2mm in diameter.
The mintmarks, D or S, symbolize that the coin was struck in Denver or San Francisco. The mintmark on the 1948 Jefferson nickel is located on the reverse on the left side of the Monticello house.
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1948 Nickel Value Guide
In this section, we shall explore the real value of the 1948 nickel, so you can find out how much yours is worth.
There are three varieties of the 1948 Jefferson nickel. These are:
- 1948 No-mintmark Nickel
- 1948 D Nickel
- 1948 S Nickel
Let’s take a deep dive and find out the value of these three coin types.
1948 No-mintmark Nickel Value
The 1948 Jefferson nickels minted in Philadelphia did not feature any mintmark. A total of 89,348,000 were produced and released into circulation.
Obtaining a no-mintmark 1948 Jefferson nickel in circulated condition up to MS65 is quite easy. But the coin becomes much scarcer in grades MS66 and above.
The full steps of the Monticello house are a feature many collectors seek in Jefferson coins. The more clear-cut the steps, the more valuable the coin. That said, finding the 1948 nickel in full steps at grade MS66 or higher is particularly difficult, and only a few dozen of these coins exist.
In about uncirculated condition, the 1948 nickel value ranges between $0.35 and $0.40. In uncirculated mint state, the 1948 Jefferson nickel can fetch up to $1200.
According to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), the most valuable 1948 nickel, graded MS67, sold at $1650 in 2014.
1948 D Nickel Value
The Denver mint produced 44,734,000 Jefferson nickels in 1948. These coins have a mintmark D on the left side of the Monticello house on the reverse.
In pre-war eras, the Denver mint produced superior quality coins with a better, more intense, appealing strike. But, after the war, there was a noticeable drop in the quality of Denver coins. However, these were still different from the poorer quality in Philadelphia and San Francisco.
Finding a lustrous, good-quality 1948-D nickel is not unusual, especially in grade MS66 and below. But, in grades MS67 with Full Steps, the 1984-D is extremely rare and would fetch a premium.
In circulated condition, the 1948 Jefferson nickel is worth $0.30 and $0.90. However, in uncirculated mint state condition, the coin can be worth up to $194.
PCGS records show that the most valuable 1948 nickel was graded at MS67 and sold at $867.
1948-S Nickel Value
The 1948 nickels from San Francisco have the lowest mintage of all three mints. Only 11,300,000 Jefferson nickels were produced at the facility in 1948.
That said, 1948-S nickels are very common in average circulated condition up to MS65. The coins become scarce starting from MS66, but thousands of these uncirculated coins are still available.
1948-S Jefferson nickels in MS67 and above, particularly those designated as Full Step, are extremely scarce and are worth a premium.
In average circulated condition, the 1948 nickel value is between $0.3 and $0.60. Between mint state 60 and MS65, the coin is worth between $0.70 and $20 and can fetch up to $75 in MS67 mint state condition.
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1948 Nickel Errors
Many 1948 nickels were produced, making this coin quite common. Unless your Jefferson nickel from 1948 is in mint, uncirculated condition, it is generally more or less worth its face value.
That said, if you have an error coin, it can be worth more than face value. Here are some worthwhile errors you should look for in a 1948 nickel.
1948 Doubled Die Nickel Error
A doubled die error is highly sought after among collectors, as it can be worth several thousand dollars depending on how visible the error is.
This error happens when the die used to stamp the design on the blank coin does so twice but at a slightly different position, causing some parts of the design to appear twice.
The 1948 nickels with doubled die errors are few and apart. Those that exist usually feature a doubling of FIVE CENTS and MONTICELLO. Some doubled die coins have doubling around the President’s eye. These error coins are typically worth between $25 and $50.
1948 Repunched Mintmark Nickel Error
In the 1940s, the U.S. Mint struck coins manually, resulting in repunched mintmarks, numbers, and letters. If a part of the design were struck wrongly, the correct design would be punched onto the die again, resulting in two overlapping designs on the same coin.
The mintmark was among the most common feature to be repunched. It was common for a mintmark to be punched twice or even more than thrice.
The more visible the repunched mintmark, the more valuable the coin. Most repunched mintmark 1984 error coins come at a value of between $7 and $15.
1948 Die Break Nickel Errors
When the mints use old and damaged die breaks to print dies on blank coins, raised bumps or cracks may form on the coin’s surface.
Usually, larger cracks or bumps are worth more money than small, subtle ones. Big, visible die breaks on certain positions can increase the coin’s collectability and numismatic value.
The 1948 nickels with die break errors are worth between $3 and $100 or more. Coins with die cuds are particularly collectible. A die cud is a die break error that appears as a big raised bump with a flat top on the coin’s edge that can fetch more than $100.
1948 Off-Center Nickel Errors
Ideally, mint workers place coins at the center of the die, ensuring that the design is well positioned. Sometimes, this does not happen, resulting in the die striking away from the coin’s center. In some cases, part of the coin’s design may need to be included.
Nickels from 1948 missing just 5% or 10% of the design are quite common and may fetch about $3 to $10. Nickels with off-center errors in which 50% of the design is missing, but the coin’s date and mintmark are fully visible can be worth $75 or more.
Here are answers to common questions collectors have about the 1948 nickel value.
Is a 1948 nickel real silver?
The 1948 nickel is not real silver. All Jefferson nickels except those minted from 1942 to 1945 contain a mix of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. During the war, Congress instructed that nickels be minted using 50% copper and 50% silver to minimize the use of nickel, an important wartime material. After the war ended in 1946, the Mint returned to producing nickels containing 75% copper and 25%, and this composition has remained this way to date. The 1948 nickel, therefore, does not have any precious metal value.
How can you tell if a 1948 nickel is rare?
The truth is 1948 nickels are not rare because a large number of them were minted and released into circulation. For this reason, 1948 Jefferson nickels in circulated condition are generally worth face value. That said, you should look out for coins with interesting and significant errors. Die breaks, off-center, die cuds and doubled die are errors that can make a 1948 nickel rare and potentially worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.
What makes a 1948 nickel valuable?
The condition of the coin determines how much it is worth. A 1948 nickel Jefferson that has a clean, shiny appearance with no signs of damage and looks like it has just come off the mints is an uncirculated coin. Such a coin, typically in mint state MS67 and above, is rare and costs more than $1000 in the open market.