1966 was the year of the worst American coinage crisis for the US Mint in the 20th century. Silver coinage was replaced two years before, but the problem with hoarding was not solved. One of the countermeasures to prevent collecting was canceling mint marks from pieces produced in 1965, 1966, and 1967, but it was unsuccessful.
The production process disruption led to the minting of the 1966 Jefferson nickels only from August to December of that year. Besides coins from the regular strikes, the Philadelphia mint also produced pieces from the special strike, and the 1966 nickel value depends on the coin type you have.
1966 Jefferson nickel value Chart
|Condition||1966 Jefferson nickel|
*by USA Coin Book
History of the 1966 Jefferson Nickel
The US Mint started the Jefferson nickel minting in 1938 after replacing the Buffalo nickel. The iconic American coin design proved as complicated to mint, and everyone was relieved when its production finally ceased.
Felix Schlag created this five-cent coin with Thomas Jefferson’s portrait on the obverse, honoring the third American President. He won the competition, but his work was not done since it was necessary to finish the reverse and show Monticello at the required angle.
This nickel became the third American coin depicting a genuine man. Before this design, there were only Lincoln pennies (from 1909) and Washington quarters (from 1932) with similar features.
These coins contained copper and nickel from the start, but you can also find so-called Wartime Nickels minted from 1942 to 1945. These pieces contained silver and copper with 9% manganese because of the nickel shortage and are collectible nowadays.
1966 Jefferson nickel
|Philadelphia||1966 No Mint mark nickel||156,208,283|
|Philadelphia||1966 SMS nickel (special strike)||2,260,000|
The US Mint was at the American coinage crisis peak in 1966, although all silver coinage production was canceled. The only exception was the Kennedy half-dollar made of 40% precious metal.
Congress considered coin collecting the main reason for the lack of silver and tried criminalizing numismatics and coinage hoarding for hobby purposes. One of the solutions to this problem was to mint nickels without the mint mark from 1965 to 1967.
Due to the unsettled situation, the Philadelphia mint was often late with minting. As a result, all 1966 Jefferson nickels were produced from August to December.
Features of the 1966 Jefferson Nickel
In the 19th century, Americans were prejudiced against authentic man portraits on the coinage. That was a result of President Washington’s belief that such coins looked too monarchistic.
He refused to allow coins to contain his profile in early 1792, but that attitude changed in the 20th century. The Jefferson nickels were the third coin type with a real person on the obverse.
The obverse of the 1966 Jefferson nickel
German-born sculptor Felix Schlag created only one coin in his life, the Jefferson nickel. His obverse design included a left-facing Thomas Jefferson bust, taking up most of the space. This portrait is undoubtedly based on the President’s profile, which Jean-Antoine Houdon made in 1789.
It is one of the rare American coins with a centrally positioned image that occupies almost the entire obverse. You can see that Jefferson’s head and left shoulder almost touch the coin rim.
There is barely enough space for inscriptions struck along the rim on the left and right profile sides, including:
- IN GOD WE TRUST on the left
- LIBERTY ☆ 1966
As you can see, the small star separates the word LIBERTY and the DATE placed along the right rim. Interestingly, the 1966 nickels were the first in the series with the designer’s initials on the obverse.
The reverse of the 1966 Jefferson nickel
After a few corrections to the original design, the accepted solution included the Monticello mansion with the impressive octagonal dome on the reverse. A sculptor created the building with six steps in front of the entrance.
Unfortunately, most coins came without all six visible lines because of the poor strike. Therefore, those that looked like the artist’s original idea were the most collectible and precious.
The centrally positioned Jefferson’s home has its name struck below the entrance, while the FIVE CENTS and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA are positioned in two lines along the coin edge. The top rim is reserved for E PLURIBUS UNUM, the Latin saying required by law on all American coinage.
1966 Jefferson nickel
|Face value||Five cents ($0.05)|
|Compound||Cupronickel (3 Cu: 1 Ni)|
|Coin thickness||0.0768 inches (1.95 millimeters)|
|Coin diameter||0.835 inches (21.21 millimeters)|
|Coin weight||0.1764 ounces (5 grams)|
Other features of the 1966 Jefferson nickel
The round 1973 Jefferson nickels with plain edges are copper-nickel coins with a face value of five cents. They are 0.077 inches (1.95 millimeters) thick and weigh 0.176 ounces (5 grams), while their diameter is 0.835 inches (21.21 millimeters).
1966 Jefferson Nickel Value Guides
Like in the other two years, 1965 and 1967, the 1966 Jefferson nickels were produced without the mint mark. You can recognize coins from the regular and special strikes among 158,468,283 minted pieces, but there were no proof nickels.
1966 No Mint mark Jefferson nickel Value
The most significant number of total nickels minted in the Philadelphia mint in 1966 were regular strike coins. Most of these 156,208,283 specimens went into circulation immediately, making surviving ones inexpensive.
The 1966 Jefferson nickels in the mint state are collectible nowadays. However, they are typically interesting only for new collectors and those with a limited budget.
You can find these pieces for $0.30 to $45, and the price mainly depends on the coins’ quality and their presence on the market. Nickels with Full Steps are always highly appreciated among collectors, and you can get $1,350 to $7,000 per one, depending on each piece rating.
1966 Jefferson nickel value
|Condition||1966 No Mint mark nickel||1966 No Mint mark FS nickel|
|AU||$0.05 to $0.15||/|
If you are looking for the most expensive coins in the series, you should pay attention to the 1966 MS 65 Jefferson nickel with Full Steps. Its price at an auction organized in January 2016 was $11,750, making this piece the most valuable coin struck this year.
On the other hand, the regular Jefferson nickel minted in 1966 with an MS 67 rating won an auction record of $1,150. One collector added this beautiful piece to their collection in January 2008.
1966 No Mint mark Jefferson nickel Special strike Value
Besides regular coins, the Philadelphia mint also produced 1966 SMS Jefferson nickels from the special strike. Their number was 2,260,000, so you can expect them to be more expensive than ordinary coins intended for circulation.
Nickels from the special mint set come with the price of $4 to $12, but the best-rated specimens in an MS 68 grade often reach $100 on the open market. One of the unique nickels minted this year is the one in an SP 68 SMS grade. It won an auction record of $712 on eBay in March 2021.
1966 Jefferson nickel value (special mint set)
|Condition||1966 SMS nickel||1966 SMS CAM nickel||1966 SMS DCAM nickel|
Most 1966 SMS Jefferson nickels with desirable cameo contrast are even more expensive. For such coins, you should set aside about $5 to $60. However, those with an MS 68 rating can be worth up to $600.
The most pricey is definitely the coin sold at Heritage Auctions in January 2006. One dedicated collector paid $3,738 for this shiny piece with an SP 68 SMS rating.
As expected, most collectors want to get the best nickels from this set. Therefore, specimens with deep cameo contrast cost $200 to an impressive $2,500 at auctions. However, some pieces are so beautiful that they can make a surprise. One 1966 SP 68 SMS nickel reached $9,718 at Stack’s Bowers in June 2011.
1966 Jefferson Nickel Errors and Variations
Even though errors are rarer in modern coins than those struck manually, you can expect to find pieces with some imperfections among 158,468,283 produced Jefferson nickels from 1966.
Besides these errors, every collector appreciates well-struck coins with Full Strikes and wants to add at least one to their collection.
The quality of the material used for coins and the long-term use of the dies directly affect the quality of the shot. Therefore, nickels with clearly visible design details are rare, particularly those minted before 1970. Such a situation makes them valuable and collectible.
You can understand how precious 1966 Jefferson nickels Full Steps are when comparing their prices with ordinary pieces. For instance, the best-rated coins in the set cost $8 to $45, while FS specimens in the same grade typically reach $1,350 to $7,000.
The 1966 Jefferson nickel errors are uncommon, but you can find pieces with minor imperfections from time to time. Most of the errors result from their wrong position during the process or worn-out minting equipment. The list of these coins is short and includes the following:
- Errors that occur because of the improper planchet cutting
- Doubled die reverse with doubling on the Monticello dome
- Struck-through error, which is a result of the die striking the nickel through some material
- Clipped coins that result from improper planchet cutting
FAQ about the 1966 Jefferson Nickel
What makes a 1966 Jefferson nickel rare?
Unfortunately, there is no 1966 Jefferson nickel you can consider scarce. These ordinary coins are rarely worth more than their face value, and expensive pieces are the exception rather than the rule.
Which 1966 Jefferson nickel is worth a lot of money?
- The Jefferson nickel with an MS 65 FS rating struck in 1966 won an auction record of $11,750 in January 2016 at Heritage Auctions.
- The DCAM Jefferson nickel with an SP 68 SMS rating struck in 1966 won an auction record of $9,718 in June 2011 at Stack’s Bowers.
- The CAM Jefferson nickel with an SP 68 SMS rating struck in 1966 won an auction record of $3,738 in January 2006 at Heritage Auctions.
- The Jefferson nickel with an MS 67 rating struck in 1966 won an auction record of $1,150 in January 2008 at Heritage Auctions.
- The Jefferson nickel with an SP 68 SMS rating struck in 1966 won an auction record of $712 in March 2021 on eBay.
How much is 1966 No Mint mark Jefferson nickel worth?
The 1966 Jefferson nickel value is approximately $0.30 to $45, depending on each coin’s quality. As always, those with Full Steps are more collectible and reach higher prices on the market.
The list of the most pricey Jefferson nickels
Original vintage design Type 1
- 1954 S Jefferson nickel – $35,250
- 1938 D Jefferson nickel Full Steps – $33,600
- 1964 Jefferson nickel Full Steps Special Strike – $32,900
- 1949 D/S Jefferson nickel – $32,900
- 1942 D/D D/horizontal D Jefferson nickel – $32,200
- 1940 reverse of 1938 Jefferson nickel proof – $28,750
- 1939 D reverse of 1940 Jefferson nickel – $26,400
- 1941 Jefferson nickel proof – $18,800
- 1940 Jefferson nickel proof – $18,400
- 1939 reverse of 1938 Jefferson nickel proof – $18,400
Original modern design Type 1
- 1969 D Jefferson nickel Full Steps – $33,600
- 1978 Jefferson nickel Full Steps – $16,000
- 1966 Jefferson nickel Full Steps – $11,750
- 1966 Jefferson nickel Special Strike – $9,718
- 1971 No S Jefferson nickel – $7,637.50
- 1965 Jefferson nickel Special Strike – $7,050
Silver alloy Type 2
- 1945 D Jefferson nickel Full Steps – $25,000
- 1944 D Jefferson nickel – $22,325
- 1943/2 P Jefferson nickel – $16,675
- 1943 P Jefferson nickel Full Steps – $14,687.50
- 1942 P Jefferson nickel proof – $14,100
- 1945 P DDR Jefferson nickel – $14,100