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Discovering the Value of the 1958 Jefferson Nickel

Discovering the Value of the 1958 Jefferson Nickel

The Jefferson nickel series is often overlooked by collectors as an uninteresting run of coins. The design is rather prosaic, and has long been thought to contain few surprises. In recent years, the Jefferson nickel has begun to receive attention from specialists, who have developed a system of grading which repays study, and which depends upon knowledge of fine detail. While values remain low for circulated examples, the 1958 Jefferson nickel at the higher grades, and showing features desired by specialized collectors, can sometimes reach surprising prices at the higher grades.

Production of the 1958 Jefferson Nickel

DatePhiladelphiaDenverSan Francisco
195817,088,000168,249,120 0
1958 Proof875,65200
Source: Red Book

How Much Are 1958 Jefferson Nickels Worth?

1958 Nickel Value Chart
Business StrikeGrade
Uncirculated MS64Uncirculated MS65Uncirculated MS66
1958 5C$9.45$51.00$455.00
1958 5C FS$74.00$292.00$2,500.00
1958-D 5C$1.50$6.75$47.25
1958-D 5C FS$13.50$37.80$54.00
Proof StrikeGrade
1958 5C$24.30$43.20$101.00
1958 5C CAM$68.00$182.00$325.00
1958 5C DCAM$1,620.00$3,000.00$8,500.00
Source: CDN CPG® (Retail)

Values for Jefferson nickels using the Monticello reverse are driven, in part, by the traditional consideration of grade. The ordinary grading terms ranging from About-Good to About-Uncirculated for circulated specimens, and Mint-State for uncirculated specimens pertain to Jefferson nickels as to any other coin. Collectors specializing in Jefferson nickels, however, assign an additional criterion to their evaluation, and look for the number of steps visible on the image of Monticello. Those coins showing a set of five or six steps are referred to as “full step” coins, and these are sought after by collectors. In some years,”full step” coins are so uncommon that no examples are known in circulated grades.

Some estimate has been made of the population of “five step” and “six step” specimens, and the results published.

Strike quality varies radically in the 1958 Jefferson nickel, to such an extent that the Mega Red Book, a catalog of coin values, described the coin thus, “Many are as ugly as sin.”  The book went on to blame poor workmanship, and inferior materials used in the planchet. When a leading coin publication describes a particular year of issue in this manner, clearly, careful shopping and selection are key.

Values for 1958 Jefferson Nickels

Image credit: PCGS

Although the Philadelphia Mint produced far fewer nickels than the Denver Mint in 1958, values for both mints are highly similar in circulated grades. Coins at the lower circulated grades have no collectible value. In many instances, such coins can still be found in active circulation with some regularity, and simply pawing through pocket change or rolls of nickels from the local bank is highly likely to yield examples fit to be displayed in a coin folder or as part of a very basic type set for beginners. Extremely Fine specimens and About-Uncirculated specimens should both cost under $0.25.

Uncirculated nickels begin to cost more, and prices vary depending upon whether the nickel in question is displaying a full set of steps or not. Numismatic expert David Bowers indicates that about a tenth of the 1958 nickels can be expected to exhibit five steps. He describes the number of nickels exhibiting six steps as “rare.”

Uncirculated 1958 Philadelphia nickels graded MS-63 are still not very expensive, and should cost no more than $2.75. An uncirculated 1958 nickel graded MS-63, showing full steps (abbreviated FS), will cost $20.25. A somewhat nicer specimen of 1958 nickel, graded MS-65, will cost $51. The same nickel, but displaying full steps, will cost nearly $300.

Recent auction prices have begun to edge even higher for uncirculated specimens. In April 2019, a Jefferson nickel, graded MS-65 FS sold at Heritage Auction for $384.

The price of the very best examples of uncirculated 1958 Jefferson nickels, showing full steps, can be quite high. In June 2021, Heritage Auctions sold a 1958 nickel, graded MS-66 FS for $3,120. A similar example, graded identically, but showing a bit of light purple discoloration, sold for $2,640 in April 2021.

Values for 1958-D Nickels

Image credit: PCGS

The 1958-D nickel is far and away the more common coin likely to be found in the marketplace as vastly more coins were struck in Denver than in Philadelphia. Values reflect this disparity. One writer, in discussing the widely disparate quality of the series, wrote, “Some are dreadful, others are beautiful gems–hot and cold, fire and ice. Look around, and you’ll find a nice one.” Given the disparities of value, looking around and careful examination of choices are crucial in selecting the elements of a good Jefferson nickel collection.

Estimates of the full step population suggest that the prevalence of five steps on specimens is much less common than for coins struck in Philadelphia, at about 1 in 30. Bowers rates the occurrence of six steps as “rare, but one of the more available of the era.”

Circulated coins below the grade of Extremely Fine have little, if any, collectible value except, perhaps, as an example to be put into a blue nickel coin folder until a nice specimen should come along in change. Jefferson nickels graded as Extremely Fine can routinely be found in coin shops, or at coin shows, for prices around $0.20. About-Uncirculated specimens should cost less than $0.25.

Uncirculated coins of lower grades, like MS-63, can be purchased at comparatively reasonable prices. A 1958-D nickel, graded at MS-63, should be readily available for a little under $1. A nicer specimen, graded MS-65, ought to cost about $7. Even outstanding coins, graded at MS-66, ought to cost no more than $50.

Uncirculated coins showing full steps on Monticello command much higher prices. In December 2023, a 1958-D nickel graded MS-66+ FS sold at auction for $61. In April, a similar coin, with an identical grade, sold for $124.

In November 2021, a 1958-D Jefferson nickel graded as MS-67+ FS sold for $1449 at Heritage Auctions. The population notes in the auction catalog indicated that no higher graded examples were known, and fewer than 40 examples as good had been submitted to the two national certification services. A much more modest 1958-D nickel, graded at MS-67 with full steps, sold for $169 in June 2022.

Were Any 1958-S Nickels Produced?

Although the San Francisco Mint moved to a new building in 1937, which was less than twenty years old, by 1955 much of the minting equipment at the San Francisco Mint was considered obsolete. The U.S. Treasury, the parent organization of the U.S. Mint, opted to emphasize modernization at the Denver and Philadelphia Mints instead. The San Francisco Mint finally closed for ten years, ceasing all coin production, beginning in 1955. It would resume production in 1965.

Consequently, there are no genuine 1958-S nickels (or any other genuine coins from San Francisco in that year.)

Values for 1958 Jefferson Proof Nickels

Image credit: PCGS

The value of a 1958 proof Jefferson nickel can vary wildly, depending upon the finish present on the coin. In the 1950’s most American proof coins were finished with a mirror-like appearance. Ideally, raised surfaces had a frosted surface, but because of the stress proof coin dies were exposed to during the striking process, only a handful of early coins struck off of each die reached this level of perfection. Proof coins which have a degree of contrast between a mirrored surface and a frosted raised image are referred to as “cameo” proofs, while those coins which have the contrast across all the surface features are referred to as “deep cameos.” Deep cameos are  more valuable than cameo proofs, which in turn, are more valuable than ordinary proofs.

In February 2021, a 1958 Jefferson proof nickel, described as an “ultra cameo” PR 68, sold for $1560 at Heritage Auctions. In October 2020, a 1958 proof nickel graded PR-67 DCAM sold for $1560 again at auction. In 2017, a 1958 proof nickel graded as PR-68 DCAM sold for $2585.

proof cameo 1958 nickel, graded PR-69, which is to say, almost at the very top of the grading scale, sold for $540 at auction.

How Much Are 1958 Nickel Errors Worth?

Although the U.S. Mint goes to some pains for quality control, with large volumes of coins, errors are not unheard of and slip through into circulation.

Values for Off-Center Strikes and Double Strikes of 1958 Nickels

Image credit: Heritage Auctions

An off-center strike occurs when a coin fails to sit properly between the dies in the coin press. Instead of a nicely centered image on a proper, round coin, the result is an elongated piece of metal, showing part of an image. Such coins are eagerly sought by specialized error collectors.

In October 2010, a 1958-D Jefferson nickel, struck 75% off-center, and graded MS-65, sold for $373 at Heritage Auctions. In April 2021, a 1958 Jefferson nickel, struck 75% off-center, graded MS-62, sold for $156 at auction.

A double struck coin occurs when the coin fails to fall correctly out of the coin press, and is struck repeatedly. Each strike falls on a slightly different part of the coin, and leaves an extra image. While the result is called a double struck coin, and usually such coins are only struck twice, multiple strikes aren’t unknown. In October 2010, a double struck 1958-D Jefferson nickel, with the second image falling 85% off center, and graded MS-63, sold for $276 at auction.

Values for 1958 Nickels Struck on the Wrong Planchets

Coin blanks, designed to be struck into coins, are known as planchets. Ideally, the right planchet is fed into the coining press to be struck with the correct dies. Mistakes occur, and it is sometimes alleged that Mint employees also mis-cast coins, whether for amusement or profit. Either way, occasionally, these erroneously sized coins reach circulation. The combinations of coin planchet and die could be in nearly any permutation.

In July 2022, a Jefferson nickel struck on a one cent copper planchet, graded MS-65, sold for $960. A similar error, which also doubles as an interesting historical artifact, is a 1958 Jefferson nickel graded MS-63 which was struck, not on an American coin planchet, but upon a Cuban centavo planchet. Within a year, of course, the then-existing Cuban government would be swept away, and the Mint ceased producing Cuban coins. The nickel in question sold for $1762 in September 2015.  In 2014, a 1958 nickel struck on a dime planchet graded MS-65 sold for $763 at auction.

Technical Specifications of the 1958 Nickel

The Jefferson five cent piece, traditionally simply called a “nickel,” is actually composed mostly of copper. The coin is an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel, except for a short period of time during the Second World War. The Jefferson nickel has a diameter of 21.2 millimeters and a weight of 5 grams.

The Jefferson nickel was designed by Felix Schlag, who responded to a public competition for a redesign of the coin in 1938. Schlag’s entry, picked from nearly 400 other contestants, originally featured a portrait bust of Jefferson similar to the one ultimately seen on the design, but a reverse consisting of a three-quarters view of Monticello, looking at a corner of the building. The Mint insisted upon a more traditional frontal view of the building. Schlag received the prize of $1,000, but estimated, after the required revisions were completed, that the labor involved probably left him in a “break-even” position.


Jefferson nickels in general are coins whose evaluation depends upon subtle distinctions. To the average collector, and to the untrained eye, the Jefferson nickle is a very bland and undistinguished coin, with uninteresting features and simple motifs. A number of specialized collectors have carried on extensive research into the subject, however, and value the same nickels based upon sophisticated artistic issues like the number of steps present on the image of Monticello on the reverse.

Such interest has lifted the coin from obscurity, and turned the Jefferson nickel into a much more interesting and valuable coin than it might otherwise have been. Anyone collecting this series ought to take pains to be aware of the fine distinctions in order to get the most value out of the collection.