Where is the mint mark on a 1939 nickel? If you have an old nickel from 1939 sitting in your coin collection and you want to know where to look for the mint mark, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to walk you through exactly where to find the mint mark so you can identify where your 1939 nickel was made.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: The mint mark on a 1939 nickel can be found on the reverse (tail side) of the coin, just beside the Monticello. You’ll see a small letter denoting which U.S. Mint facility struck the coin – D for Denver, S for San Francisco, or no mint mark for Philadelphia.

A Brief History of Mint Marks on U.S. Coins

When Mint Marks Started Being Used

Mint marks started being used on coins in the mid-19th century to identify the mint where the coins were produced. Before 1835, U.S. coins were only produced at the Philadelphia Mint, so no mint marks were necessary.

However, as new branch mints opened in Charlotte, North Carolina (1838), Dahlonega, Georgia (1838), New Orleans, Louisiana (1838), San Francisco, California (1854), and Carson City, Nevada (1870), mint marks helped distinguish their coins from those struck in Philadelphia.

The first mint to use a mint mark was the New Orleans Mint in 1838 when it stamped an “O” on the reverse of its coins. The Charlotte Mint used a “C,” the Dahlonega Mint a “D,” and the San Francisco Mint an “S.” The Carson City Mint used the “CC” mint mark from 1870 to 1878 and then a “C” from 1878 to 1893.

Why Mint Marks are Important for Collectors

For coin collectors and numismatists, mint marks are vital pieces of information that help determine a coin’s rarity and value. Coins struck at different mints often had much lower mintages than Philadelphia coins.

Additionally, each mint had its own unique characteristics, giving the coins a different look and feel.

For example, coins from the San Francisco Mint are highly desirable due to the mint’s history of low mintage coins. Key dates from the Carson City Mint are also popular as the mint only operated from 1870-1893, making its coins rare and scarce.

Even small differences like an “S” mint mark versus no mint mark can mean the difference between a common coin worth a few dollars and a rare coin worth thousands.

Mint marks also help complete sets for collectors aiming to acquire one example coin from each mint for a given year and denomination. Filling in these holes in a collection can be challenging, as the mintages for some branch mint coins were extremely low.

So for numismatists assembling sets of 19th and early 20th century U.S. coins, mint marks are vital information that help identify the coins, determine rarity, and unlock potential value. They also connect the coins to the fascinating history of the early American mints that struck them.

Locating the Mint Mark on a 1939 Nickel

The Reverse Design of the 1939 Nickel

The reverse design of the iconic 1939 Jefferson nickel features a representation of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate near Charlottesville, Virginia. Monticello was Jefferson’s primary plantation and he designed the neoclassical style architecture himself.

The building featured a central, domed rotunda and was considered one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in America at the time.

The reverse design on the 1939 nickel depicts a front view of Monticello. The building is featured prominently with steps leading up to the entryway and rows of windows along the wings on either side. Trees frame the architecture on both sides to give a sense of Monticello’s location on top of a small mountain overlooking the Virginia countryside below.

Where Exactly to Find the Mint Mark

On the 1939 Jefferson nickel reverse design, the mint mark is located just beside the “Monticello”. The mint mark will be a small letter denoting which US mint facility struck those particular nickels in 1939.

No mint mark stands for the Philadelphia mint, “D” represents the Denver mint, and “S” is for the San Francisco mint. No mint mark at all also generally indicates that the nickels were struck at the main Philadelphia mint. Key dates for the 1939 Jefferson nickel series include the 1939-D and 1939-S issues.

So when examining a 1939 nickel to determine where it was made and look for rare dates, the area to focus on is directly beside the representation of Monticello on the reverse. Using a coin magnifier can help make out small mint marks and condition details on well-circulated vintage nickels from the early 20th century.

Identifying Different 1939 Nickel Mint Marks

No Mint Mark – Struck at the Philadelphia Mint

The 1939 nickel coins without a mint mark were produced at the main United States Mint facility in Philadelphia. This was the original and longest operating Mint, responsible for churning out millions of coins over the years to supply the nation’s demand for coin currency.

So finding a 1939 Philadelphia nickel is relatively common compared to ones struck at other Mints.

One interesting fact about the Philadelphia Mint during 1939 was that it was gearing up for production of the short-lived 1942-1945 Jefferson nickel, which would replace the Buffalo nickel in circulation.

So they likely aimed to deplete remnants of the older Buffalo nickel dies before transitioning over.

D Mint Mark – Struck at the Denver Mint

The “D” mint mark signifies that a 1939 nickel was struck at the Mint in Denver, Colorado. First opened in 1906, the Denver Mint was built to serve the western regions of the country. Each year it produced hundreds of millions of coins that entered circulation in the area.

Finding one of these 1939-D Jefferson nickels in pocket change would have been common for residents of the western U.S. back then. But today, due to wear and tear from decades of use, they are scarcer collectibles trading for $1 to $5 USD in worn condition.

Uncirculated versions sell for $15 or more online.

S Mint Mark – Struck at the San Francisco Mint

The “S” mint mark on a 1939 nickel signifies it was produced at the San Francisco Mint facility in California. First opened in 1854, it supplemented the main Philadelphia Mint in order to boost coin production capacity to meet circulation demand stemming from the California Gold Rush era.

Normally the San Francisco Mint struck millions of nickels each year for circulation on the West Coast.

But in 1939, the numbers dropped way down. Turns out only 6,630,000 nickels were struck with an S mint mark that year, making them very tough to come by. Most entered circulation and disappeared from lack of modern day collecting interest decades ago.

Today, even heavily worn 1939-S nickels trade for $45+ each. And pristine, uncirculated condition examples can bring over $600 at online auction. So watch carefully for that tiny S!

Tips for Verifying the Authenticity of 1939 Nickels

Examine the Surface and Wear of the Coin

Carefully inspecting the surface and wear of a 1939 nickel can provide clues about its authenticity. Genuine 1939 nickels will show normal wear for their age, with some fading of details and light scratches.

Be suspicious of coins that appear too worn or damaged for their era, as this could indicate intentional artificial aging to make a counterfeit appear old.

Use a magnifying glass to check that design elements like the building columns and details on Monticello match images of verified 1939 nickels. Fuzzy details are a red flag. Examine the edges to ensure the reeding pattern aligns with genuine specimens.

Use a Magnet to Detect Copper Cores in Counterfeits

Most counterfeit vintage coins are made purely from base metals like zinc or copper. You can easily detect these fakes with a simple magnet test. Genuine 1939 nickels have a 75% copper and 25% nickel composition.

While nickel is slightly magnetic, authentic specimens will show only a weak attraction to a magnet.

Counterfeits made entirely of copper, zinc or steel will display strong magnetic properties. If a supposed “1939 nickel” sticks firmly to a refrigerator magnet, it is surely a fake. The magnet doesn’t lie!

Compare Details to Images of Genuine Coins

When verifying any vintage coin, including 1939 nickels, one of the best authentication methods is visual comparison to undisputed specimens. Study high-resolution images of genuine mid-1930s Jefferson nickels, scrutinizing elements like:

  • The style and shape of the building columns on Monticello
  • The details of Jefferson’s vest buttons and coat
  • The thickness and three-dimensionality of Monticello
  • The sharpness and relief of peripheral lettering

If any area seems “off” when compared to verified images, the coin may be counterfeit. Subtle variations in these fine details are often the most telling factors in determining authenticity.

These visual indicators, along with the magnet test and inspection for appropriate wear, are your best defenses against fake 1939 nickels. Consult a professional coin appraiser if any doubt remains about a coin’s legitimacy.

The Value of 1939 Nickels Based on Mint Marks

Philadelphia 1939 Nickels (No Mint Mark)

The Philadelphia mint produced the highest number of 1939 nickels, with over 120 million coins minted that year. Since they have no mint mark, these common date nickels have minimal collectible value over face value.

In average circulated condition, Philadelphia 1939 nickels are worth around $0.05 to $0.10 each.

Denver 1939 Nickels (D Mint Mark)

With the “D” mint mark for the Denver mint, only 3,514, 000 of the 1939 nickels were struck here. Denver mint nickels are scarce. For a well-worn, average circulated 1939-D nickel, collectors may pay $1 to $5.

San Francisco 1939 Nickels (S Mint Mark)

The rarest and most valuable 1939 nickel carries the “S” mint mark of the San Francisco mint. Only 6,630,000 of these coins were made. Since fewer were preserved in nice shape, prices jump sharply for 1939-S nickels in grades above G-4.

In circulated grades, they trade for $1 to $5 based on wear level. Uncirculated examples sell for $30 to $50+.

As you can see, the mint mark makes a significant difference in 1939 nickel value. Checking the coins closely to identify mint location is important. Images and descriptions on sites like USA Coin Book can help determine any mint marks as well.

Where Is The Mint Mark On A 1939 Nickel – 

I hope this outline gives you a detailed overview for where to find the mint mark on your 1939 nickel. With the location and identification tips provided, you should have no problem spotting the mint mark to verify where your coin was struck.

Understanding the meaning behind mint marks is an important skill for coin collectors and historians alike when attributing and valuing vintage U.S. coinage.

Similar Posts