Junk Silver Jefferson Nickels a.k.a “War” Nickels

After the onset of World War 2, many items were rationed in the United States, especially raw materials that could be put to use towards the war effort. Nickel was a critical war material that was needed in manufacturing steel.

On October 8,1942, the war time nickel, or 5 cent piece, was introduced with a new alloy composition to eliminate the element nickel. A larger mint-mark was placed above the dome of Monticello, indicating the change in alloy. Composition: 35% silver, 56% copper, 9% manganese.

Silver war nickels have begun to attract attention from collectors and investors of all kinds. War nickels were minted during WWII from mid-1942 through 1945. Each war nickel contains 35% pure silver. 

War Nickels are an inexpensive way to stack silver. War Nickels can commonly be bought for their melt value, sometimes even below melt value. 

Because each coin is made with silver, the intrinsic value of the metal far exceeds the face value of the coin.

Every $1 Face Value (20 coins) of War Nickels contains 1.125 troy ounces of Silver. A full roll of 40 nickels contains $2 Face Value and roughly 2.25 troy ounces of silver. Each junk nickel contains 0.056 troy ounces of pure silver.

War Nickel Mint Marks

“War” Nickels are the only nickels or 5 cent pieces that have been produced by the US Mint that contain any silver in the alloy. The junk silver nickels are easy to identify by their mint mark on the back of the coin.

All nickel coins that were minted from October 1942 until 1945 that contain silver have a larger than usual mint mark on the back of the coin above the depiction of Monticello. Placing the mint mark in such a way makes it easy to distinguish that these coins contain 35% silver. Even junk nickels minted at the Philadelphia Mint contain a “P” mint mark on the back. This was the first time a “P” mint mark was used to identify coins from the Philadelphia Mint.