How Much is a 1961 Nickel Worth? (Price Chart)

The US Mint began Jefferson nickel production in 1938, but you can still find them on the open market today. Two mints in Philadelphia and Denver produced newly-designed coins. They replaced the Buffalo nickel with a too complicated design to make.

The circulation of over 300,000,000 Jefferson nickels minted this year means their significant presence in the current coin market. Therefore, you can quickly find them even in the mint state. As you can expect, the 1961 nickel value is not high, and you can complete the whole series for an affordable price.

 

1961 Jefferson Nickel History

1961 Jefferson Nickel History
Image

Jefferson nickels were the third coin series with a former US President portrait on the obverse. When these new coins appeared, the Lincoln pennies and Washington quarters had already been in circulation for years.

The US Mint announced a competition for a new nickel design in early 1938. Contestants were required to meet two requirements, to show Jefferson on the obverse and his home Monticello on the coin reverse.

1961 Jefferson nickel

Location Year Minted
Philadelphia 1961 73,640,100
Philadelphia 1961 proof 3,028,144
Denver 1961 D 229,342,760
Total / 306,011,004

The competition winner was to receive a $1,000 prize. Mint director Nellie Tayloe Ross and three sculptors were in charge of choosing the winning design.

Although they believed that the sculptor Felix Schlag‘s work was the best design for such a purpose, the officials didn’t like the coin reverse. Therefore, they demanded the sculptor change it.

The Schlag’s original reverse depicted Monticello shown from an angle, while officials wanted a direct view of the building. In addition, they were bothered by the too modern letter style, so the sculptor changed them, as well.

1961 Jefferson nickel

Face value 5 cents ($0.05)
Compound 75% copper plus nickel
Coin weight 0.1764 ounces (5 g)
Coin diameter 0.8346 inches (21.2 mm)
Coin thickness 0.0768 inches (1.95 mm)
Shape Round
Edge Plain

The Thomas Jefferson image turned to the left occupies the obverse center. You can see the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the left rim, while the word LIBERTY and the minting year are on the opposite side.

In the coin reverse’s central part, you can see the historic Monticello building. The Latin saying E PLURIBUS UNUM is struck on the upper nickel rim above the house.

The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA extends along the lower rim. Above it are the FIVE CENTS denomination and the building’s name MONTICELLO.

1961 Jefferson nickel value*

Quality 1961 1961 D
MS 60 $0.28 $0.28
MS 65 $23 $23
PR 65 $3.3 /

*by USA Coin book

You can’t see the sculptor’s initials on the 1961 Jefferson nickel. Although the exact reason why Felix Schlag didn’t include them in the design is unknown, it was most likely just an oversight. It was not until 1966 that they appeared on the coin obverse below Jefferson’s portrait.

 

1961 Jefferson Nickel Types

Mintage of just over 306 million Jefferson nickels produced in 1961 came from two mints, Philadelphia and Denver.

You can quickly distinguish them since the coin from Philadelphia doesn’t have the mint mark. On the other hand, those struck in Denver have a letter D on the reverse right of Monticello.

1961 Jefferson nickel

1961 Jefferson nickel
Image

The circulation of 73,640,100 Jefferson nickels minted in Philadelphia was just under a third of the total circulation from this year. However, even such a low mintage didn’t ensure that this piece has a higher value on the current coin market.

1961 Jefferson nickel value*

Quality 1961 1961 D
MS 60 $0.25 $0.25
MS 65 $10 $10
MS 66 $48 $47
PR 66 $12 /
PR 67 $15 /
PR 69 $42 /

*by CoinHelpU

A specimen in good condition will cost you only its face value, $0.05. On the other hand, you need to set aside more money, about $1,600, for a piece in the mint state.

The auction record is not attracting much attention either. The most pricey 1961 MS 67 Jefferson nickel changed owner for only $6,235 at auction in 2008.

1961 proof Jefferson nickel

1961 proof Jefferson nickel

The Philadelphia mint minted 3,028,144 proof Jefferson nickels in 1961. Due to high circulation, these pieces’ availability on the coin market is significant. Therefore, you can add one specimen to your collection for a very affordable price. 

1961 proof Jefferson nickel value*

Quality 1961 1961 CAM 1961 DCAM
PR 60 $0.25 to $0.4 / /
PR 61 $0.3 to $0.5 / /
PR 62 $0.35 to $0.55 / /
PR 63 $0.4 to $0.6 / /
PR 64 $0.4 to $0.6 / /
PR 65 $1 to $1.5 $2 to $2.6 $25 to $33.7
PR 66 $4 to $5.4 $15 to $20.2 $60 to $81
PR 67 $10 to $13.5 $25 to $33.7 $175 to $228
PR 68 $16 to $21.6 $40 to $54 $300 to $390
PR 69 $65 to $88 $125 to $162 $1,500 to $1,880

*by Greysheet 

The 1961 proof Jefferson nickel value ranges from $0.25 to $1,880 depending on its condition. Plus, this circulation also affects auction records. The coin with a PR 69 rating reached a modest $3,407.50 at auction in 2021.

1961 D Jefferson nickel

1961 D Jefferson nickel

Thanks to the 229,342,760 nickel mintage in the Denver mint in 1961, this coin is significantly present in the current market. Therefore, it won’t be difficult for you to find a piece in the mint state.

On the other hand, you should be prepared for significant variations in their value. For instance, you can buy a specimen in good condition for only $0.05, but the situation is different with a coin in the MS 65 grade. It typically costs significantly more, close to $4,400.

1961 Jefferson nickel value*

Quality 1961 1961 D
Good $0.05 /
Very good $0.12 $0.2
Fine $0.12 $0.2
Very fine $0.31 $0.2
Extra fine $0.31 $0.46
AU $0.5 $0.71
UNC $1.1 $1.15

*by Numista

Accordingly, the auction record is notably higher than other nickels in this series. The 1961 MS 65 Jefferson nickel reached $23,000 in 2004.

 

1961 Jefferson Nickel Variations

1961 Jefferson Nickel Variations

The Full Steps mark refers to Jefferson nickels with five to six clearly visible steps at the Monticello base you can see on the coin reverse. This mark is given only to specimens without traces of weak strike or irregularities due to matrix damage.

As you can guess, coins from particular series can be scarce on the market. The 1961 D Full Steps Jefferson nickel is one of them, making it tricky to find such a specimen in gem condition.

Only three pieces were rated Full Steps, including two MS 64 FS coins and one 1961 D MS 65 FS Jefferson nickel. This highly rated specimen reached $23,000 at auction in 2004.

 

1961 Jefferson Nickel Grading

1961 Jefferson Nickel Grading

The collector’s primary intention is to get uncirculated coins. Since such specimens are frequently rare, many admirers are sometimes happy to get even a circulating piece. Be aware that their prices significantly vary, so the condition assessment is supremely consequential.

It is always the best solution to have your 1961 Jefferson nickel estimated by professionals. However, you can also make a quick coin condition check yourself by following specific guidelines.

Uncirculated – Only nickels that never participated in the hand-to-hand exchange on the open market can get the highest grade. You can’t see any damage on it, and its shine is flawless. Plus, you can notice that all the relief details are clear and sharp, and the letters in the inscriptions and the date are readable.

1961 Jefferson nickel value*

Year Quality
Good Fine Extra fine Uncirculated
1961 $0.05 $0.05 $0.05 $0.38
1961 D $0.05 $0.05 $0.05 $0.38

*by CoinStudy

Extra fine – Since these coins were in circulation for a short time, you will hardly notice any signs of wear. Only a detailed examination will show slight flattening in the highest points, like Jefferson’s hair and face.

Fine – Most 1961 Jefferson nickels present on the coin market have this rating. Due to the long time spent in circulation, numerous signs of wear are visible on their surface. You can see flattening in Jefferson’s hair, jawline, and coat collar in most cases. However, the letters and the date are still legible.

1961 Jefferson nickel value*

Quality 1961 1961 D
Extra fine $0.05 to $0.2 $0.05 to $0.2
AU $0.05 to $0.2 $0.05 to $0.2
MS 60 $0.06 to $0.21 $0.06 to $0.21
MS 61 $0.08 to $0.23 $0.08 to $0.23
MS 62 $0.12 to $0.27 $0.12 to $0.27
MS 63 $0.5 to $0.75 $0.5 to $0.75
MS 64 $1 to $1.5 $2 to $2.65
MS 65 $6 to $8.1 $13 to $17.55
MS 66 $30 to $40.5 $75 to $101
MS 67 $1.300 to $1.620 $3,500 to $4,380

*by Greysheet

Good – A coin with a good grade shows significant damage due to prolonged time spent in use. Besides numerous scratches, you can also see dents and discoloration on the surface. Such pieces are still collectible, but serious collectors avoid them whenever possible.

 

Summary

The 1961 Jefferson nickels’ significant presence on the coin market affects their low value. Therefore, you can buy even a specimen in the mint state for a decent amount. While the mint mark typically indicates variations in coin value, that is not the case with this piece.

Leave a Comment