Brief History of the Jefferson Silver War Nickel

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.

Reverse side of an S mint Jefferson "War" Nickel.

Reverse side of an S mint Jefferson “War” Nickel.

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