Once upon a time, nickel was more valuable than silver in the United States – sounds crazy, considering Nickel runs $4.00 a pound today as opposed to silver at $14.00 a troy ounce . While war never changes (thanks Fallout), it does tend to re-prioritize commodities
During World War II, between 1942 and 1945, nickel was strategically important to war manufacturing, nickels coined in this period were struck in a copper-silver-manganese alloy – as an added bonus, they were still usable in existing vending machines. Each “war” nickel had 35% silver content, which is about $.80 today. They bear a large mint mark above the of Monticello (the domed building) on the reverse/back of the coin.
These coins can still be found in change, in part because most people don’t realize they contain silver. Next time you get a nickel, check the back for the large mint mark, who knows you may be able to buy (half) a pack of gum with your discovery.