1944 Jefferson Nickel Overview
The 1944 Jefferson Nickel, widely known as the Jefferson Five Cents and also a Wartime nickel issue, featuring Thomas Jefferson, is a coin that is fairly common and is somewhat of interest to collectors with specific attention to coins with a high quality strike, because dies were heavily overused throughout production.
This nickel category had a long production run with the US mint that has not reached a conclusion. First minted in 1938 and still being minted through the present, this design is a long-standing and honored coin. Still being minted after 80 years, this design is a lasting testament to one of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson.
The most valuable Jefferson Nickels are those from 1938 to the 1960s, which includes the 1944 run. Some treasure hunters collect this coin for its silver value alone but there are some wartime Jefferson nickels that are worth more than the silver in them, in the right condition with the right mint mark.
The Jefferson Five Cents was designed by Felix Schlag to depict Thomas Jefferson on the obverse side and the front elevation view of his home, with its name ‘MONTICELLO’ printed prominently beneath it on the reverse side. This coin’s design was selected as part of a contest in 1938.
The original obverse of the Jefferson nickel holds a profile bust portrait of Jefferson with the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the left rim and the legend “LIBERTY” and year of mintage on the right.
The reverse features an image of Monticello, Jefferson’s home. At the top of the coin is the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” and at the bottom are the legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and the denomination “FIVE CENTS.”
The design has been modified slightly throughout the coin’s long mintage. The original design was replaced in 2004 with a series of designs commemorating westward expansion. Then, in 2006 Schlag’s reverse design returned, and the obverse was replaced by the forward-facing Jefferson that is still used today.
The composition of the Jefferson nickel is 75% copper and 25% nickel, with the exception of the Wartime nickels, struck from 1942 to 1945, which featured a mix of copper, silver, and manganese. These silver wartime nickels are 56% Copper and 35% silver.
The Jefferson nickel began in 1938 as the successor to the beloved but notoriously difficult to produce Buffalo nickel.
Because of the wartime changes to minting procedures, the 1944 issuance of the Jefferson Nickels are highly varied, with many flaws due to overuse of dies and the change in metal from the standard used in prior year’s mintages.
No Jefferson Nickels are truly rare, though, as the Jefferson Nickel category runs concurrently with the Great Depression and World Wars, during which Americans made concerted efforts to preserve whole rolls rolls and even bags of uncirculated coins every year. As a result, collectors look not for date rarity, but on the rare quality of the Jefferson Nickels. Prior to the 1980’s when the depth of strike was actually modified, most Jefferson Nickels were rarely struck with distinct detailing. Often, it can be noted that the steps of Monticello are incomplete, so nickels with “full steps” are the most interesting to the average collector.
Characteristics of the Jefferson Nickel
These are the things that you have to look for to make sure that what you have in your pocket is a valuable nickel:
Look at the reverse of the coin. Jefferson nickels have printed P, D or S on top of the Monticello dome. What’s special about these mint marks was that nickels minted from 1938 to 1964 had the P, D or S marks on the right side of the Monticello. The P, D and S stand for Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco, where the nickels were minted.
All 1944 genuine nickels, no matter the minting location, carry a large mint mark above the dome of Monticello, so if you find a 1944 nickel without that mark, it is counterfeit.
The steps on the Monticello Dome should be clearly visible, as they are more collectible and valuable than those nickels minted without regard to the steps of the dome.
History of the 1944 Nickel
Three mint locations–San Francisco, Philadelphia and Denver–struck nickels in 1954.
In Denver and Philadelphia, the quality of strikes was so low and quantity so high that there are still nickels found in circulation from these mints. And although the typical nickels from this category do have adequate luster, minting with weak strikes lead to the dual effect of showing incomplete centers incomplete and exposed planchet marks the dies failed to smooth out.
As with all coins from the years following the Great Depression, the wartime nickels were widely saved by the roll when new, both by collectors and others. As a result, none of the coins are considered rare in uncirculated condition, though several rarities are recognized in the highest grade levels. Just 49 examples for all Wartime Nickels have been graded MS-68 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, and none finer. Nearly a third of these MS-68 pieces were dated 1943-P.
Want to know more about the 1944 Nickel as well as other collectible US Nickels? Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Collectible Nickels.
1944 Nickel Proofs
No proof sets were struck for Wartime Nickels. A typical proof is struck at least twice and Are encased in a protective capsule.
Valuing the 1944 Nickel
Roughly, this coins value, in average condition, can be estimated to be valued at about $0.10, while a 1944 Jefferson Nickel in certified mint state (MS+) condition might auction for as much as $420*.
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* This estimated value does not reference any standard coin grading scale. So, when we state ‘average’, this is meant to mean ‘in a similar condition to other coins issued in 1944’, and ‘mint state’ meaning the coin has been certified MS+ by one of the top coin grading companies.
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