The Jefferson Nickel series is one of the longest and most beloved coin series in the US. First minted in 1938, these coins are still service today. One of the greatest coins in their long history is the 1974 Nickel.
Here we’ll take a closer look at its value, along with its varieties. By the end, you’ll know all there is to know about the 1974 Nickel Value. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
1974 Nickel Value Chart
|1974 No Mint Mark Nickel
|1974 D Nickel
|1974 S Proof Nickel
1974 Nickel Value by Mint Mark
The 1974 Nickel comes from a long line of Jefferson Nickels which were first struck in 1938 and continue to this day, with only a few design modifications. For most of their run, including the 1974 Nickel, they have featured Jefferson on the obverse side with his Monticello residence on the other.
In total, there are three varieties of this coin. The coins meant for circulation were minted in Philadelphia and Denver. Proof coins that are made for collectors were made in San Francisco.
Coins minted in Denver have a small “D” punched onto them, and those in San Francisco have a small “S”. Until 1980, Philadelphia didn’t have a mint mark on their coins (except during war time), so we refer to these as No Mint Mark coins.
The exact value of a 1974 Nickel is heavily dependent on where they were minted and their condition. With that in mind, let’s look a little closer as the specific varieties of these coins.
Using a Coin Value Checker is a great idea to get a more accurate price today.
1974 No Mint Mark Nickel
In 1974, Philadelphia made a phenomenal number of coins with over half a billion being struck. 601,752,000 were made to be exact, and it’s unsurprising that these coins can be easily found today, including in our daily pocket change.
Due to that, it takes a lot for these coins to be worth more that their face value. Even if you think you’re holding a coin that looks in great condition, it’s probably not worth very much. Only near-perfect coins will have significant value.
Coins are rated from 1 to 70 and even a 50-rated coin would be worth its face value. A 50-rated coin is known as “almost uncirculated” which means that they look almost as if they were never circulated, with only traces of wear.
This is why people can get excited about their coin being worth something significant, only to be disappointed when an expert spots some wear. Even at a 60 grade, a 1974 Nickel will only be worth a few cents overs its face value.
With so many coins made, they only have significant value at the highest possible grade, which for these coins is MS67, as no specimens have been found above that grade. At MS67, you can expect to sell your coin for around $4,000.
The record for a 1974 No Mint Mark Nickel was $4,230, which had Full Steps and an MS67 rating. If you’re not sure what Full Steps are, we’ll explain it in the next section.
1974 Denver Nickel
In coin collecting, it’s often not how many coins were struck that is important but how many have survived to a mint state today. Denver made less than half the number of coins which Philadelphia did, with 277,373,000 coins being made in their mint.
But even with a big difference in the mintage, Philadelphia coins are, on average, worth more. While the record sale for a No Mint Mark coin is over $4k, the record for a 1974 Denver Nickel is just $1,645, which sold in 2015. This was also an MS67 coin with Full Steps.
We’ve mentioned it a few times, but what exactly are Full Steps? This refers to the steps on the Monticello building which is on the reverse of the coin. If these steps are perfectly intact without any blurring, then the coin can receive Full Steps designation.
This designation can be given if you can see five steps, but seeing all six steps is even rarer, and more valuable. The reason this is a big deal is because the design of the coin is difficult to strike perfectly as the high points on each side of the coin are in the same position. Therefore, the vast majority of coins don’t have the full steps.
As with the Philadelphia coin, the Denver coin will only be worth significant amounts in those really high grades. If you think your coin is near perfect, then it’s best to have it independently graded.
1974 S Proof Nickel
Proof coins are never intended for circulation. Originally, these coins were made to check the dies that struck the coins and also for archiving purposes. But for a long time now, these coins have also been made to sell to collectors.
There are two more important things to mention about proof coins. Firstly, they are made with highly polished dies and are intended to be perfect examples of the coin. Secondly, they are made in much lower quantities than circulated coins.
2,612,568 proof coins were made in San Francisco in 1974. While that is obviously much less than the other two mints, it’s important to remember that these coins were always meant to be kept in perfect condition and not used.
Due to that, the number of coins in the highest grading levels are quite similar to circulated coins. While that’s true, the expectations of quality isn’t similar and therefore you only get good value for PR70 coins.
PR70 coins are those in completely perfect condition. The record for some of these coins is $3,819 which sold in 2015. Below a grade of PR70, the value of these coins drops off a cliff. A PR69 coin may only be worth $50.
There is another factor which can add value to these coins, which is a deep cameo. This is when there is a deep contrast between the flat parts of the coin and its details. The bigger the contrast in appearance, the more valuable the coin.
It’s also important to know where to look for the mint mark. While it has changed location quite a few times in the history of the nickel, in the 1974 coin its on the obverse. Either a “D” or an “S” will sit just behind Jefferson and under the “4” in 1974. If it doesn’t have a mint mark, then it was made in Philadelphia.
1974 Nickel Value Grading
The grading of coins is quite simple, once you know it. Each coin is rated on a scale of 1 to 70, with 70 being the highest. Circulated coins in grades above 60 are called Mint State and given the letters “MS” before them. Proof coins are graded on the same scale, and have the words “PR” before them.
1974 Nickel Value Errors
Usually coins have a number of different errors, but the 1974 coin was fairly error-free. However, there is one error that is not only rare but can also be extremely valuable. Let’s check it out.
1974 Over 1973
Unlike other types of coin errors, this is very specific to the 1974 Nickel. Here the coin was double struck but done so with the 1973 design. The 1974 design was stuck over it, but on many coins, you can still see the 1973 detailing underneath.
If you have one of these coins in mint condition, then you’re looking at a sale price of at least a couple of thousand dollars. However, for the best version of this error, the guide price may be over $10,000.
1974 Nickel Value – FAQs
Is a 1974 S nickel worth anything?
The 1975 S Nickel refers to the proof coin. As over 2.5 million were made, any coin that’s not in perfect condition will be barely worth more than its face value. However, if they are in perfect condition then your coin could be worth $3,000 or more.
Should a 1974 nickel have a mint mark?
1974 Nickels were made both with and without a mint mark. Philadelphia coins at this time didn’t have a mint mark and they account for over two thirds of all the nickels made in 1974. So the chances are that a 1974 nickel won’t have a mint mark.
Is the 1974 nickel silver?
No, the 1974 nickel doesn’t contain any silver and instead has a combination of 75% copper and 25% nickel. The only time nickels contained any silver was during the second world war between 1942 and 1945, when they contained 35% of silver. This is because nickel was needed for the war effort.
Almost all 1974 nickels will be worth just their face value but those in near-perfect condition can be worth much more. Using a Coin Value Checker is a great idea to get a more accurate figure to take your next steps to either sell or buy a 1974 Nickel.