1946 silver nickel error how to tell them from regular strike? The 1946 silver nickel is a highly sought-after coin for many collectors due to some unique errors that occurred during its production. If you think you may have one of these rare and valuable error coins, here are some tips on identifying them.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Look for missing mint marks, double die errors like doubling on the words “Liberty” and “In God We Trust”, and RPM (repunched mint marks) errors.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn about the different 1946 nickel errors, how to spot them, and how much they may be worth.
Background on the 1946 Nickel
Nickels minted in 1946 were the first nickels produced after the war, as the United States switched compositions the following year due to silver shortages after World War II.
Some key background details on the 1946 nickel:
- The 1946 nickel contains 75% copper, with the remaining composition being nickel. This gives the coin a distinct silver appearance compared to later nickel issues.
- From 1942 to 1945, nickels had a silver composition of 35% as well, due to metal shortages during WWII.
- Approximately 231 million 1946 nickels were minted, among the highest mintages for any 20th-century nickel. Despite this, some silver error nickels occur, and the high silver prices have led to extensive melting, making some dates and mint marks rare.
- 1946 nickels were produced at three U.S. Mints – Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Nickels from the lower-output Denver and San Francisco Mints tend to be more valued by collectors and dealers.
As the final ones of the classic design were first introduced in 1913, 1946 nickels have long been popular with coin collectors. This demand, coupled with the coin’s silver error, means that many 1946 nickels have been pulled from circulation over the decades.
For collectors, there are a range of mint mark combinations and condition factors that determine the 1946 nickel value. Key dates like the 1946-D or 1946-S in top grades can trade for over $100 in the numismatic market.
When searching circulation or inherited collections for 1946 nickels, it’s important to check for both mint marks (above Monticello on the reverse) and signs of wear or damage. venous condition, date, and mintage can mean the difference between face value and a coin trading for upwards of ten times its silver value.
Identifying key markers for condition, date, and mint is vital for properly assessing any potential 1946 silver nickel errors minted on wartime planchet that come your way as well. We’ll cover specifics on detecting these mint errors and varieties next.
Missing Mint Marks
One of the most sought-after errors on 1946 nickels is missing mint marks. These rare coins were struck without the mint mark that typically appears above the dome of Monticello on the reverse side of the coin.
How Missing Mint Marks Happen
Mint marks indicate at which mint the coin was produced – no mint mark is Philadelphia coin, D for Denver, and S for San Francisco. On occasion, a batch of coin blanks destined for one mint would accidentally end up at another mint and be struck without the proper mint mark.
Other times the mint mark was hand-punched into the coin dies, and the person doing the punching either forgot or missed the mark altogether. This resulted in coins missing mint marks that should have had one.
Key Dates and Rarity
The 1946-D and 1946-S nickels are very rare and valuable when missing mint marks. Only a handful of these errors are known to exist.
Identifying Missing Mint Marks
To identify a missing mint mark on a 1946 nickel, you need to first establish which mint it should have been struck at. This can be deduced from the coin’s appearance and luster.
Next, closely examine Monticello using a magnifying glass to verify there is no mint mark above the building. If the area is clearly smooth with no signs of a mint mark, you likely have a missing mint mark variety.
As usual when identifying error coins, authentication by a reputable coin dealer or grading service is recommended before purchasing.
Double Die Errors
Doubling on “Liberty”
One of the most sought-after errors on 1946 nickels is the doubling of the word “Liberty” on the obverse (front) of the coin. This rare variety, known as the 1946 Doubled Die Obverse, shows clear extra thickness on the letters due to the hub being double-stamped onto the die.
According to NGC Coin Explore, the most evident doubling happens on the R, T, and Y of LIBERTY. Under magnification, you can see noticeable splits here. The doubling causes LIBERTY to look substantially thicker and bolder.
The 1946 doubled die silver nickel is extremely rare, with an estimated 40-50 examples known to collectors. In January 2022, an uncirculated example sold at auction for $18,000, showing the incredible demand among error coin enthusiasts.
Doubling on “In God We Trust”
Another, more common, doubled-die variety for 1946 nickels shows a doubling of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse. Under magnification, you can see clear split lines and extra thickness on the letters.
While not as dramatic as the obverse doubled die, this variety still garners significant collector interest. About 150-200 examples are believed to exist. In lower grades, this doubled die trades for over $500.
When examining 1946 nickels for the IN GOD WE TRUST doubled die, look closely at the letters TRUS of TRUST and ERI of AMERICA. These areas will show the doubling best.
As with all potential error coins, be sure to use magnification when checking 1946 nickels. Look for clear split lines between the letters or substantial thickening. With practice, attribution becomes quicker with time!
RPM (Repunched Mint Marks)
Repunched mint marks (RPMs) are a type of die variety that occurred during the minting process in the 1940s and 1950s. They happen when the initial punch of the mint mark into the working die is light or incomplete, requiring a second, heavier impression to make it fully legible.
This second punch often partially overlapped the original, resulting in a doubling of the mint mark that is visible under magnification.
On silver nickels, RPMs are most often seen on 1946 nickels minted in Denver (D/D) and San Francisco (S/S). Here are some tips for identifying them:
Check the Mint Mark
Start by examining the mint mark on the reverse of the coin with a jeweler’s loupe or microscope. Look closely for any signs of doubling, overlapping images, or distressed look to the mint mark.
Know Where to Look
On 1946 nickels, the mint marks are located just above Monticello on the reverse. Pay special attention to the inner edges of the D or S mark, as that is often where the doubling is most visible.
There are some great online resources that showcase images of confirmed RPM nickel errors. Compare your coin carefully to these images to see if the doubling matches up.
Consider the Grade
Since wear and tear can obscure some of the finer details, RPMs tend to be more visible on higher-grade nickels. However, they can still appear on lower-grade circulated coins as well. Carefully inspect nickels of all conditions.
If you believe you may have found a repunched mint mark nickel, consider having it evaluated and slabbed by a reputable coin grading company like PCGS or NGC. This is the best way to authenticate the error and have it officially attributed.
With some patience and a sharp eye, identifying 1946 RPM nickel errors is certainly possible for collectors on the hunt. Equipping yourself with magnification, reference materials, and guidance from knowledgeable coin dealers can help improve your chances of spotting these fascinating and valuable minting mishaps.
How Much are 1946 Silver Nickel Errors Worth?
1946 silver nickel error is highly sought-after by coin collectors and can be worth a considerable amount. These coins were mistakenly struck on a wartime nickel planchet. They are extremely rare and sought-after among collectors so they command a high premium price.
1946 Silver Nickel Error How To Tell – Conclusion
1942-1945 nickels were marked a transitional year for nickels when the wartime silver alloy nickels were phased out in favor of the modern copper-nickel composition still used today. The turbulence of this changeover led to some fascinating error coins that are highly sought by collectors and among them is the 1946 silver nickel coin.
By knowing the unique characteristics of 1946 nickel errors like missing mint marks, doubled dies, and RPMs, you can identify these valuable rarities. If you are fortunate enough to uncover one of these error nickels, protecting its condition and grade will help preserve its maximum value.