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Discovering the Value of the 1962 Jefferson Nickel

Discovering the Value of the 1962 Jefferson Nickel

The 1962 Jefferson nickel was struck in large quantities at both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. As such, it has comparatively little value in the lower circulated grades and is not sought heavily by collectors.

Uncirculated specimens are also easy to come by. Good, high quality uncirculated specimens, on the other hand, are a different matter, and are comparatively rare. Collectors ought to cultivate a keen eye to separate the wheat from the chaff, and ought to couple their observation with the patience to wait until a better specimen comes along, if the market choices at any given moment seem uninspiring.

Production of the 1962 Jefferson Nickel

1962 Proof3,218,0190
Source: Red Book

Two mints, Philadelphia and Denver, produced Jefferson nickels in 1962, striking over 377,000,000 coins between them. Q David Bowers, a noted numismatic historian, states that in the first part of the 1960s, the mint branches did not always take pains over the dies used for circulating coins. In particular, the reverse dies for nickels often lacked detail below the pillars of Monticello. The practical result, for collectors, is that the sixth step, one of the key markers for determining truly outstanding uncirculated five cent coins, may or may not be present on the dies of any given year. Bowers’ guide to nickels states that sixth steps are “unknown” on the 1962 Jefferson nickels.

How Much Are 1962 Jefferson Nickels Worth?

1962 Nickel Value Chart
Business Strike
Uncirculated MS65Uncirculated MS66Uncirculated MS67
1962 5C$9.45$40.50$358.00
1962 5C FS$43.20$130.00$3,500.00
1962-D 5C$54.00$338.00
1962-D 5C FS$3,250.00$5,000.00
Proof Strike
1962 5C$1.50$10.80$54.00
1962 5C CAM$2.65$13.50$101.00
1962 5C DCAM$5.40$29.70$878.00
Source: CDN CPG® (Retail)
* FS = Full Step
CAM = Cameo
DCAM = Deep Cameo

Values for 1962 Nickels

1962 5C
Image credit: PCGS

In 1962, the Philadelphia Mint struck many fine Jefferson nickels with a good tone, excellent surfaces, and good, sharp, details. The Mint also struck many poor specimens which had very weak details, especially in the center.

Bowers, in his guide book to nickels, estimates that about 5% of uncirculated 1962 Jefferson nickels exhibit 5 full steps, and states that six full steps are unknown to the hobby.

So many 1962 Jefferson nickels were struck, and so many survive, that coins with a grade much below Extremely Fine or About Uncirculated, have no collecting value to numismatists. Such coins, in grades of XF-40 or AU-55 can readily be found in coin shops or at coin shows for $0.20 or so.

Uncirculated coins, at the lower grades, if they lack the requisite full steps, are nearly as cheap as the higher grades of circulated coins. A 1962 Jefferson nickel graded MS-63, should cost about $0.75. A similar coin, graded MS-64, displaying five steps, will sell for around $16 or a little more.

Mid-grade uncirculated 1962 Jefferson nickels, at a grade of MS-65, begin to display significant value. Even without full steps, such a coin sells for around $10. With a full set of five steps, a 1962 Jefferson nickel graded MS-65 will sell for around $45.

The most valuable 1962 Jefferson nickels combine a high uncirculated grade with five steps; the full complement of six steps being a design rarely attained by the Mint in the first half of the 1960s. Such coins are distinctly rare, and sell for high prices when they appear in public.

In June 2021, a 1962 Jefferson nickel, graded MS-67 FS sold at auction for $2,040. In February of that year, an even better specimen, still graded at MS-67 FS, sold for slightly more, at $2,223.60. The auction notes pointed out that nickels of this grade for 1962 are a distinct rarity, as almost all were “handled, mishandled, or at the least lacking sufficient detail for a full strike designation.” In the case of the coin offered for sale, not only were the steps present, but so also were the side steps, which almost never appear on a strike intended for circulation in the period. Perhaps the finest 1962 Jefferson nickel graded MS-67 came on for sale in January 2019, and sold for $4,320. The auction notes for the coin stated that only four such coins were known to the grading services, and of these, this particular coin had nearly proof-like mirror finishing, as the die had undergone some polishing before use.

Values for 1962-D Nickels

1962-D 5C
Image credit: PCGS

The 1962-D Jefferson nickels generally have mediocre strikes with bad surfaces. Good specimens with sharp images do exist, but are not the norm. Instead, they are highly sought after and can be the centerpieces of any Jefferson nickel collection.  Bowers estimates that five steps appear on 1962-D Jefferson nickels at a rate of about 1 for every 2000 specimens examined, and that six full steps are unknown. Even at a rate of 1/2 of 1%, enough 1962-D Jefferson nickels were coined as to create a decent supply of five-step coins for hobbyists.

Values for circulated 1962-D Jefferson nickels are similar to those of 1962 Jefferson nickels from Philadelphia. Circulated coins graded XF-40, or AU-55 can be readily found for $0.20 at coin dealers or at coin shows, and many specimens of lower grade can be found in ordinary change or rolls of nickels, suitable for use in blue nickel folders.

A low-grade uncirculated 1962-D nickel, graded at MS-63, not showing a full strike or full steps, can be found for under $1.

Because of the general mediocrity of dies used in the Denver Mint in 1962, prices for better quality uncirculated coins are higher than for coins of the same grade struck in Philadelphia, even though Denver struck vastly more coins overall.

Thus, a 1962-D nickel, graded MS-65, and showing full steps, sold in October 2023 for $480. A similar coin from Philadelphia might be found in coin dealerships or at auctions for a tenth of that, or about $45. This is by no means an isolated incident. In June 2022, a 1962-D nickel, graded MS-66 FS sold for $1,500. In July 2021, another specimen, graded MS-65 FS sold for $2,640.

Even uncirculated 1962-D nickels which don’t show five full steps can sometimes command high prices at auction. In November 2023, a 1962-D nickel graded at MS-66 sold for $139. The equivalent coin from Philadelphia should sell for slightly over $10.

Were Any 1962-S Nickels Struck?

Starting in 1955, coining operations were stopped for 13 years at the San Francisco Mint. Although the Mint had a reasonably new facility that was about two decades old, no similar investment was made in the equipment or methods, which were increasingly obsolete and unable to meet the demands for modern production volumes. In 1968, the Mint resumed work at San Francisco, by having that site assume responsibility for producing proof coins, which had hitherto been struck in Philadelphia.

Thus, in 1962, the San Francisco Mint was closed, and there are no genuine 1962-S nickels.

Values for 1962 Proof Nickels

1962 5C, CAM (Proof)
Image credit: PCGS

While the dies used for making ordinary, circulating coins in the Philadelphia Mint in 1962 varied widely in quality, but tended to be somewhat mediocre, the dies used for making proof coins received careful attention. As a result, proof coins having five steps or even six steps are somewhat common. At the same time, the Mint did not necessarily emphasize keeping a frosted “cameo” appearance on proof coins to the same extent as is fashionable today. Thus, only the first few strikes of any set of proof dies would produce deep cameo or cameo finishes, with the rest simply being a common mirror-finish.

The result, when valuing 1962 proof Jefferson nickels, is that proof coins with an ordinary finish are somewhat common, while those with cameo or deep cameo finish are considerably more valuable. A 1962 nickel, graded PR-63, should be commonly available for under $1. Nicer proof nickels graded PR-65 can still be found for under $2. Proof nickels with grades of PR-67 or PR-68 can be found with costs ranging between $10 and $20.

At the top of the line, nickels graded PR-69 should cost about $55.

Cameo finished proof nickels from 1962 are reasonably priced at the lower grades. A PR-65 CAM 1962 nickel should cost about $2.65. A better nickel, graded at PR-67 or PR-68 CAM ought to cost about $13.50 to $18.20.

One can sometimes find values by purchasing lots of multiple coins, though one would have to research the value of each component individually.  A typical example might be this lot, offered for auction in December 2022. A 1958 proof nickel, graded PR-67 CAM was paired with a 1962 proof nickel, also graded PR67 CAM. The pair went for $47. After such a purchase, one could either keep the extra coins or sell them on to fund other purchases.

A 1962 proof nickel, graded PR-69 CAM will cost about $100. Nicer specimens could cost more. In November 2022, a 1962 proof nickel graded PR-69 CAM sold for $129.

Deep Cameo proofs are more expensive still, reflecting their comparative rarity. A PR-65 DCAM nickel should cost just over $5, or three times what an ordinary proof nickel of the same grade, but with no cameo finish, costs. PR-67 and PR-68 DCAM proof nickels should cost between $30 and $45. The highest graded proof deep cameo nickel, graded PR-69 DCAM will cost in excess of $500. A proof nickel of this grade sold for that amount at Heritage Auctions in November 2023.

1962 Jefferson Nickel Errors

1962 5C Struck on 1C Planchet
Image credit: Heritage Auctions

As with coins in other years, the Mint quality control process was not perfect, and a certain number of defective 1962 Jefferson nickels slipped through the cracks. These have generally found their way into the hands of dedicated and specialized error collectors.

At recent auctions, a particular type of error, of coins struck on the wrong planchet, seem to have particularly cropped up among 1962 Jefferson nickels. Thus, in January 2023, a Jefferson nickel struck on an ordinary Lincoln penny planchet sold for $360. A more interesting specimen of this type of error went to auction in March 2023. In addition to striking coins for the United States, the Philadelphia Mint occasionally strikes coins for other countries, according to those nations’ specifications. In 1962, a Jefferson nickel somehow was stamped onto a planchet for an Ethiopian 5 santeem coin, which has a composition, size and weight similar, but not identical, to a Lincoln penny. This oddity sold for $1,200. Perhaps the most valuable error of this year was a 1962 Franklin half dollar being struck onto a nickel planchet. This coin sold for $9,600 in January 2023.

Technical Specifications of the 1962 Jefferson Nickel

Although the Jefferson five-cent piece is usually called a “nickel,” the coin is actually made of 75% copper and 25% nickel, and has had this composition for most of its history, except for a short time during World War II. The Jefferson nickel weighs 5 grams, and has a diameter of 21.2 millimeters.

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.


The 1962 Jefferson nickel shouldn’t pose a challenge for collectors, as it was struck in huge numbers, with large numbers of surviving specimens. However, because of the generally poor quality of the minting process in the 1960s, especially in Denver, surviving high quality examples are comparatively scarce.

In such an environment, a true collector, who cultivates an aesthetic or artistic sense in addition to an understanding of the grade, may have some advantage over simple investors who put their money strictly behind the grade number. Patience is key, as is an awareness of the minting process. Very good examples exist, and do reach the market. The very best examples, especially from the Denver Mint, may be beyond all but the largest budgets. However, lower graded uncirculated coins with a good strike will certainly appear favorably compared to rougher specimens with a higher grade and a bad strike.