Silver Nickel / War Nickel

Silver nickels also commonly referenced as war nickles were minted in Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco from mid 1942 to 1945 during world war 2. Unlike other nickles which are 25% nickel and 75% copper, silver nickles or war nickles which ever you wish to call them were composed of 56% copper, 35% silver and 9% manganese. You can still find silver nickles in circulation today, but they are rare. This junk silver item has gone up in value over the last few years as people are collecting more and more silver items. One drawback of a war nickel is that the 9% manganese makes it harder during the melt down process to extract the silver. Silver nickels tens to sell a bit below spot price because of this to serious buyers, but people who do not know about the extraction process will often buy them well above silver spot value. Collecting war nickels can be something you do as a hobby and you might churn up a few here or there.For someone looking to invest in silver coins, these should not be your first choice but they should not be left out of consideration.

Silver Nickels, what to look for.

Silver Nickel

War Nickel or silver nickel displaying the defining mint mark and dirty finish on the reverse side.

The easiest way to spot a silver nickel is by the mint mark above Monticello’s dome on the obverse side of the coin. It will be marked with either a P, D or and S depending on where the war nickel was minted. Although minting started in 1942, keep in mind that some of the 1942 silver nickels were not silver unless they have the distinctive mint mark mentioned. Another way to spot a well circulated war nickel is by their color. These coins tend to be almost black in some instances or a really dark charcoal looking finish to them. Dirty and ugly, they still up to 20 times their original face value. They usually stand right out in a pile of common nickels, so next time you are sorting through your change you might want to take a peek at the reverse side of your nickles and see if you find a large mint mark. You will not get rich from hunting for junk silver war nickels, but you will find a small and important piece of American history in your pocket.

Why Did War Nickles Contain Silver?

During world war 2 America was going through millions of rounds of ammunition and scraping a lot of different items to use in military arms. Nickel at the time was a metal that was needed for military applications, so by replacing the 25% nickel found in a nickel, the United States Mint chose to cut back on some of the copper and all of the nickel. The nickel was replaced with 0.0563 troy ounces of silver. This was the only nickel in history that contained any silver what so ever. Unlike pre 1965 dimes, quarters, halfs and dollars.