One of Your Nickels Could Be Worth Over $3 Million. Here’s How to Spot It.

Even if you don't have one of these, you still might have a nickel that's worth way more than five cents.

Steve-Lovegrove/ShutterstockIt’s a great feeling: you reach into your pocket, your wallet, or even a tucked-away compartment in your car and find some coins or bills you didn’t know you had. But what if you came across a coin that turned out to be worth millions?

OK, that might be a bit of a long shot—but there are nickels out there worth nearly four million dollars. Liberty Head nickels are a rare type of nickel that you can recognize by their design: the profile of the Goddess of Liberty on the front and a large Roman numeral V on the back. Incredibly rare, Liberty Head nickels minted in 1913 are worth massive amounts of money. The most famous of them, known as the Olsen specimen, has been touted as “legendary” and “the King of 20th Century Coins.” It even featured heavily in a 1973 episode of Hawaii Five-O. The Olsen specimen sold for $3.7 million at a 2010 auction. Talk about “bang for your buck” (or five cents)!

The bad news is that there are only five known nickels that fit the description, so it’s pretty unlikely that your next change purge will turn you into an overnight multimillionaire. Still, there are many other rare (but not quite as rare!) nickels that are worth a large chunk of change, so to speak. Buffalo nickels (with the profile of a Native American on the front), Shield nickels (with a shield on the front), and even Liberty Head nickels from years besides 1913 can be worth quite a bit of money as well, some as much as a few thousand dollars. You never know—any unusual coin you find could be more than face value, so visit a coin appraiser and keep your fingers crossed!

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Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.