For all the coin collectors out there, there is always that one coin one is looking for, hoping to come across and add to the collection. For some, that coin is the Thomas Jefferson 1957 nickel. Now, there are collectors whose main goal is profit, meaning the value of the coin definitely represents the reason for collecting and selling coins.

And, if you’re one of those people, you should know right away that this coin doesn’t hold a high value, even at its highest bidding and grades. Nevertheless, we wanted to cover a brief story, or rather an overview of this coin’s history, interesting facts, reasons for making it, and reasons for its worth nowadays. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Thomas Jefferson 1957 Nickel – All You Need To Know

The Nickel History and Inception

The 1957 five-cent nickel, also known as the Jefferson Nickel, is a coin that holds a significant place in American numismatic history. This coin was minted at the United States Mint in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco, and it was released into circulation on March 4, 1957, and it features the profile of Thomas Jefferson on the obverse side, and on the reverse side, a depiction of Monticello, Jefferson’s estate in Virginia. But, why is this coin important for history?

First of all, the Jefferson nickel was made to actually replace the well-known Indian Head (Buffalo) nickel in 1938. A year prior to the replacement, it was decided that people have had enough of the old nickel (as it was rather difficult to coin) and that it is time for a new one; this time around depicting one of the founding fathers and the third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson.

For this undertaking, the Administration hired Felix Schlag, a German-born American sculptor to come up with the perfect design. The nickel is still in use, to this day, but has undergone design and coin improvements in the past few decades, but overall remained unchanged for almost 60 years.

The Nickel Features

The nickel obverse features a Thomas Jefferson portrait. To his left, there is an inscription IN GOD WE TRUST, and to the left, we can see the word LIBERTY as well as the date, right behind the President’s back.

The reverse of the nickel features a beautiful presentation of the Jeffersons’ Monticello home. As the design of the nickel was improved, so was the presentation of the home; each new reiteration featured sharper highlights, especially when it comes to the stairs. Under the image, there is the word Monticello, the name of the house, positioned centrally. Just under there is also the denomination, and at the very bottom, written rather largely, the name of the country, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Thomas Jefferson's 1957 Nickel Features


The Nickel Composition and Production

The early minting of the 1957 nickel began in 1938, just right before World War II, which is rather unfortunate. In that year alone, there were around 12 million nickels coined, and they were officially released into circulation in November 1938. The following year, there was a slight change to the nickel design, now emphasizing and sharpening the steps on Monticello (Jefferson’s house features on the reverse side). It will take additional 2 years to actually notice the nickel in circulation since it was initially hoarded.

As the World War commenced, things started changing for Jefferson nickel. Now, one of the most notable features of the 1957 nickel is its composition. Prior to 1942, nickels were made of 75% copper and 25% nickel. However, during World War II, nickel was deemed a critical metal for the war effort, and the composition of the nickel was changed to 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. This composition was used until 1946 when the nickel reverted to its pre-war composition of 75% copper and 25% nickel.

In 1957, the composition of the nickel was changed again, this time to 75% copper and 25% nickel alloy with a thin layer of pure copper added to the surface. This was done to give the coin a more distinctive appearance and to reduce the amount of wear and tear on the coin. The change in composition also made it possible to mint the coin with a higher level of detail than was possible with previous compositions.

The 1957 nickel also holds significance for collectors due to its low mintage numbers. The Philadelphia Mint produced 136,828,120 1957 nickels, the Denver Mint produced 157,896,000, and the San Francisco Mint produced only 51,386,000.

This means that the 1957-S nickel (S stands for San Francisco) is the rarest of the three and is highly sought after by collectors. Additionally, the 1957-D nickel is considered to be a semi-key date, which means that it is more difficult to find in high grades than other dates. The D stands for Denver, which is where the nickel production happened, conducted by the Denver Mint.

The 1957 Jefferson Nickel Value

The 1957 nickel is a coin that holds both historical and monetary value. In 1957, the United States Mint produced more than 136 million nickels, which were circulated throughout the country. Today, these coins are sought after by collectors and investors alike, with their value ranging from a few cents to thousands of dollars depending on their condition and rarity.

The value of a 1957 nickel largely depends on its condition. The condition of a coin is evaluated on a scale of 1 to 70, with 70 being a perfect, unblemished coin. The vast majority of circulated 1957 nickels are in the range of 1 to 50, with coins in the higher range being relatively rare. If a 1957 nickel is in uncirculated condition, meaning it has never been used for commerce and has been carefully preserved, it can command a premium price. To give you an idea, here’s a brief value chart;

1957 Jefferson nickel value
Condition  1957 nickel 1957-D nickel
Extra fine $0.07 $0.06
MS 60 $0.20 $0.10
MS 61 $0.30 $0.20
MS 62 $0.50 $0.30
MS 63 $1 $0.60
MS 64 $5 $2
MS 65 $16 $9
MS 66 $45 $35
MS 67 $400 $180

The most valuable 1957 nickel is the “proof” version, which was specially produced by the United States Mint as a collector’s item. Proof coins are struck using specially polished dies and planchets, resulting in a coin with a mirror-like finish and sharp details.

The 1957 proof nickel is highly sought after by collectors, with its value ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on its condition. The highest price paid for a ‘proof’ nickel was around 6,500 USD for an PR 68 1957 Jefferson nickel. Other ‘proof’ nickels, though lower but still exceptional in condition, are sold for around 4,600 USD.

1957 Jefferson nickel ‘proof‘ value
Condition 1957 PR nickel CAM 1957 PR nickel DCAM 1957 PR nickel
PR 66 $8 $58 $2,250
PR 67 $15 $86 $3,000
PR 68 $30 $240 $4,600

Another factor that affects the value of a 1957 nickel is its rarity. While more than 136 million nickels were produced in 1957, certain varieties and mintmarks are rarer than others. For example, some 1957 nickels were struck with a “D” mintmark, indicating that they were minted in Denver, as previously mentioned. These “D” mintmark nickels are relatively rare, as fewer were produced compared to the “P” mintmark nickels, which were minted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In addition to the “D” and “P” mintmark varieties, there are also several error coins and varieties that are highly sought after by collectors. For example, some 1957 nickels were struck with doubled dies, resulting in an image that appears to be “doubled.”

Final Thoughts

We hope that this brief overview of the Jefferson 1957 nickel was informative and valuable to all of our readers. We tried to present as much as possible, considering the importance and relevance of the information. Sure enough, if you’re interested in furthering your exploration of this historically important nickel, we recommend you check out online coin guides to the Jefferson nickel, which cover varieties and mintage in great detail. We wish you all the luck and may you come across your own Jefferson 1957 coin (fingers crossed it’s one of the proof versions).

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