Jefferson nickels came instead of Buffalo nickels in 1938, and the US Mint continued their production by 2004 after making some changes in the design. After a few revisions, Felix Schlag’s work has become one of the most famous American coinages.
The 1973 nickel value is relatively modest since it is about a modern coin. Most are worth their face value but don’t be surprised when finding a few really pricey and collectible pieces in the set.
1973 Jefferson nickel Value Chart
|Condition||1973 No Mint mark nickel||1973 D nickel||1973 S nickel|
*by USA Coin Book
History of the 1973 Jefferson Nickel
The first five-cent coins minted of silver in 1794 as half dimes were smaller than modern nickels. They became nickels in 1866, although the US Mint kept the silver half-dime production until 1873, allowing their simultaneous circulation.
These coins are the only American coinage named after the metal they contain. To make things fun, they are actually made of copper with only 25% nickel.
Initially, these coins depicted Lady Liberty in different poses by 1913, when the US Mint released the first Buffalo nickels. After a quarter-of-a-century-long torture with a heavy design that was inconvenient for minting, it was time for nickels showing President Thomas Jefferson on the obverse.
The new coins were released into circulation in 1938, solving numerous problems with die cuds, die cracks, and die breaks, but nothing could have been done with weak strikes. That way, collectors found a new determining factor to rate nickels.
They focused on a number of steps at the entrance to Monticello because the weak strikes affected them the most. The craze for well-struck specimens began in the 1940s, but so-calling step collecting has become an ultimate goal for each collector since the 1970s.
1973 Jefferson nickel
|Philadelphia||1973 No Mint Mark nickel||384,396,000|
|San Francisco||1973 S nickel (proof)||2,760,339|
|Denver||1973 D nickel||261,405,000|
Interestingly, Felix Schlag’s design and composition remained unchanged until 2004, and the only changes were:
- The designer’s initials, FS, on the obverse appearing from 1966
- The mint marks on the wartime nickels (minted from 1942 to 1945), with the letter (including P), struck on the reverse, above Monticello
- The wartime nickel copper-silver composition with a low percentage of manganese
Nowadays, a complete Jefferson nickel series is available, but finding and buying specimens with Full Steps can be challenging.
Features of the 1973 Jefferson Nickel
The 1973 Jefferson nickels are collectible coins as a part of the series. The great thing is that even novices can afford them since they are still considered modern coinage. Unfortunately, these nickels are unlikely to become rare and valuable in the future since they are humble coins without precious metal content.
The obverse of the 1973 Jefferson nickel
Felix Schlag reserved the majority of the nickel obverse for a left-facing President Thomas Jefferson’s bust. His portrait depicted on this coin significantly reminds the sculpture that Jean-Antoine Houdon had made in 1789.
These nickels are rare pieces in American coinage, with the image top almost touching the rim while the bust truncation goes to the bottom edge. Besides the image, you can see only two inscriptions on this side, IN GOD WE TRUST in front of the President’s face and LIBERTY behind his head.
Besides, you can see the number 1973, separated by an asterisk from the word above, representing the denomination. At the very bottom are discreetly stamped initials, FS, while the mint mark (when existing) is below the date.
The reverse of the 1973 Jefferson nickel
The reverse, framed with a plain rim, depicts the historical building Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s residence. This house with the impressive octagonal dome still exists in Charlottesville, Virginia, reminding us of glorious days in American history.
The bottom coin side is reserved for inscriptions, and you can read MONTICELLO, FIVE CENTS, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA struck in three lines. The entire composition is framed by a Latin saying (E PLURIBUS UNUM) placed along the upper coin edge.
1973 Jefferson nickel
|Face value||Five cents ($0.05)|
|Compound||Copper-nickel (75%: 25%)|
|Coin thickness||1.95 millimeters (0.07678 inches)|
|Coin diameter||21.21 millimeters (0.83505 inches)|
|Coin weight||5 grams (0.17637 ounces)|
The 1973 Jefferson nickel other features
The five-cent Jefferson nickel minted in 1973 is a round piece made of copper and nickel in a ratio of 3: 1. It comes with a plain edge and thickness of 1.95 millimeters (0.07678 inches). Like other nickels from the series, this one has a diameter of 21.21 millimeters (0.83505 inches) and weighs 5 grams (0.17637 ounces).
1973 Jefferson Nickel Value Guides
The total Jefferson nickel mintage in 1973 was 648,561,339. Three mints produced them, but only two minted pieces for regular use. The one in San Francisco took care of collectors and released proofs only for them.
1973 No Mint Mark Jefferson nickel Value
The Philadelphia mint had the highest mintage in 1973 and produced 384,396,000 No Mint Mark nickels. Since these coins are considered modern now, their value in the circulated condition is $0.05.
You can count on a bit higher price when offering a piece that has never spent time in circulation. The average price of such a coin is $0.10 to $7, but nickels with an MS 67 rating can cost $300 in certain circumstances.
1973 Jefferson nickel prices
|Condition||1973 No Mint mark nickel||1973 D nickel|
Sometimes, rare pieces in top-notch condition make a surprise at auctions and bring a lot of money to their owners. For instance, one coin in the highest grade (MS 67) and Full Steps reached $1,528 in August 2020. Interestingly, one of the nickels from regular strikes won an auction record of $2,300 ten years before.
1973 D Jefferson nickel Value
Even though the mintage in Denver was about 30% lower than in Philadelphia in 1973, or 261,405,000 nickels, their prices are similar on the current coin market. For example, you should set aside $0.05 for one piece in use, while well-preserved ones are worth up to $10.
Interestingly, the situation is entirely different about pieces in the highest grades. Their prices are lower than those from Philadelphia because more such perfectly saved specimens exist. Therefore, you can count on about $200 per nickel.
Even auction records are more modest than coins from the main mint. One collector paid $510 for one beautiful piece in August 2022, while the one with Full Steps was only slightly more expensive. It was sold in April 2021 for $552.
1973 S Jefferson proof nickel Value
The situation with nickels produced in San Francisco is pretty strange. This mint struck only 2,760,339 proof coins in 1973, but the number of those in perfect condition is high. That significantly affects their price, and you can buy any of these specimens for $0.25 to $10.
1973 proof Jefferson nickel prices
|Condition||1973 S DCAM nickel|
The most expensive is the 1973 S PR 66 Jefferson nickel from regular strikes that was paid $336 in May 2022. On the other hand, one extraordinary piece in a PR 70 grade with DCAM quality reached $5,550 on eBay four years before.
The biggest surprise was one lovely coin with cameo contrast in a PR 67 grade. Despite its beauty, its owner managed to get only $13 for it.
1973 Jefferson Nickel Errors
It is pretty challenging to find 1973 Jefferson nickel errors on the market, thanks to improved quality control in mints in modern times. However, collectors tirelessly search for coins that show even the slightest inconsistency in design.
On the other hand, pieces with Full Steps are collectible, and some admirers occasionally set aside thousands of dollars to get one of them. Let’s see.
The original Monticello design on the Jefferson nickel’s reverse contained six straight and well-defined steps you could effortlessly count. Believe it or not, it can be pretty tricky to find 1973 Full Steps Jefferson nickels available on the current market.
The problem was in a copper-nickel alloy that was hard for precise minting, so quality strikes were rare. Additionally, mints often used the dies for too long, reducing their effectiveness. Consequently, coins came with a clouded design that was sometimes reminiscent of an orange peel.
1973 Jefferson nickel prices
|Condition||1973 FS No Mint mark nickel||1973 D FS nickel|
Even though the 1973 nickels with beautifully visible Full Steps are uncommon, you can find these coins for $3 to $65, regardless of the mint where they were struck. However, super-quality pieces in an MS 67 grade are rare, and their prices can be high, ranging from $1,850 to $2,000.
Nowadays, you can find several imperfect nickels, such as:
- Nickels with die break error – This error occurs when a die piece breaks off and leaves a weird trace on the coin surface after falling out.
- Nickels with misplaced mint marks – You can find coins from Denver with the D letter struck in the wrong locations. Sometimes, the distance from the date and coin rim is unusually reduced. Such coins are typically worth about $10.
- Nickel struck on a cent planchet – It is possible to find such a rare coin for about $180 at the market.
FAQ about the 1973 Jefferson Nickel
What makes a 1973 Jefferson nickel rare?
Like most modern coins, 1973 nickels are not rare nowadays. Only the highest-rating pieces with Full Steps can be scarce and costly.
Which 1973 nickel is worth a lot of money?
- The 1973 S PR 70 Jefferson nickel DCAM is worth $5,550 (eBay, June 2018)
- The 1973 MS 66 Jefferson nickel is worth $2,300 (Heritage Auctions, September 2010)
- The 1973 MS 67 FS Jefferson nickel is worth $1,528 (LRC Auctions, August 2020)
- The 1973 D MS 67 FS Jefferson nickel is worth $552 (Heritage Auctions, April 2021)
- The 1973 D MS 67 Jefferson nickel is worth $510 (eBay, August 2022)
- The 1973 S PR 66 Jefferson nickel is worth $336 (Stack’s Bowers, May 2022)
- The 1973 S PR 67 Jefferson nickel CAM is worth $13 (eBay, April 2019)
How much is the 1973 Jefferson nickel worth?
Most 1973 Jefferson nickels from Philadelphia are worth their denomination, but some pieces in higher grades can reach up to $7. Only rare coins in an MS 67 grade sometimes cost $300.
What are the most pricey Jefferson nickels?
The most expensive Jefferson nickels in the series come in three categories. You can recognize the following:
Type 1, original vintage design
- 1954 S MS 67 FS nickel – $35,250
- 1938 D MS 68+ FS nickel – $33,600
- 1964 SMS SP 68 FS Jefferson nickel – $32,900
- 1949 D/S MS 67 nickel – $32,900
- 1942 D/D D/horizontal D MS 64 nickel – $32,200
- 1940 reverse of 1938 PR 68 nickel – $28,750
- 1939 D reverse of 1940 MS 68 FS nickel – $26,400
- 1941 PR 68 Jefferson nickel – $18,800
- 1940 PR 68 Jefferson nickel – $18,400
- 1939 Reverse of 1938 PR 68 Jefferson nickel – $18,400
Type 1, original modern design
- 1969 D MS 65 FS nickel – $33,600
- 1978 MS 67 FS nickel – $16,000
- 1966 MS 65 FS nickel – $11,750
- 1966 SMS SP 68 nickel – $9,718
Type 2, silver alloy
- 1945 D MS 68 FS nickel – $25,000
- 1944 D MS 68 nickel – $22,325
- 1943/2 P MS 67 nickel – $16,675
- 1943 P MS 68 FS nickel – $14,687.50
- 1942 P PR 67 nickel – $14,100
- 1945 P DDR MS 66 nickel – $14,100