Here is my article on the Top 10 Rare Canadian Nickels. Have you ever wondered what those old nickels you have in your change dish are worth? Over its history, Canada has produced 2 kinds of 5 cent coins: a small silver type and a larger nickel type.
Silver 5 cent coins were produced from 1870 until 1921 and the nickel (later steel and steel plated) version was produced from 1922 until the present. In general, it’s the rare silver 5 cent coins, like the so-called Prince of Canadian Coins (the 1921 5 cent coin), that get all the attention among collectors. However, I’ve found that some of the rarest 5 cent nickel coins can fetch comparative prices to their silver counterparts. Here is my list of rare Canadian nickels that date from 1922-present.
1926 Far 6
The 1926 far 6 is the “King of Canadian Nickels.” Two versions of the 1926 5 cent coin exist and what sets them apart has to do with the position of the number “6” in relation to the maple leaf above it. The more common type is referred to as the “near 6” because the number 6 is nearly touching the maple leaf. With the so-called “far 6” version the number 6 is farther away from the maple leaf. It is quite rare and low end examples can fetch a few hundred bucks and high end mint state examples can sell for as much as $10,000!
1951 High Relief
2 varieties of the 1951 12-sided, steel beaver nickel were made. The vast majority of them were of the “low relief” variety and a small number of “high relief” coins were struck by mistake. The easiest way to differentiate between the two varieties is by looking closely at the letter “A” in “GRATIA” on the back of the nickel. If the “A” points to a rim denticle, then it is the high relief variety and could be worth several thousands of dollars depending on its condition.
1953 No Shoulder Fold (NSF) Near Maple Leaf
In 1953 there were 2 types of obverse (monarch side of coin) and 2 types of reverse (beaver side) varieties for the 12-sided, steel beaver nickel. For the obverse, the distinguishing feature here is that on a high relief version, there is “no shoulder fold” visible on the Queen’s gown. The mint corrected this by introducing a low relief “shoulder fold” version that same year. The easiest way to tell the two versions apart is by looking at the lettering in the “DEI” in DEI GRATIA on the back. If the letters “E” and “I” are flared, then it is the NSF variety. If those letters appear straight, then it is the SF variety.
For the reverse, the distinguishing feature has to do with the position of the maple leaf above the beaver. Two varieties were made, one with the maple situated very close to the rim denticles and one where the maple leaf is farther away from the rim.
These modifications resulted in four different varieties of the 1953 nickel and two of those are extremely valuable. The first is called the 1953 no shoulder fold (NSF) Near maple leaf. Mint and near mint examples of these rare coins can sell at auction for between 2 and 4 thousand dollars. The other rare variety appears below as number 5 on our list.
1965 Large Beads
In 1965, the mint introduced an updated obverse design that featured a more mature looking Queen. One design featured 138 large beads around the rim and the other featured 119 small beads around the rim. The large beads variety is the valuable coin and it comes in 2 varieties: one where a jewel at the rear of the crown is detached and one where it is slightly attached. Both are quite rare and can fetch several thousands at auction for mint state examples.
1953 Shoulder Fold (SF) Far Maple Leaf
This is the other rare 1953 nickel. It features a visible “shoulder fold” on the Queen’s gown and the letters “E” and “I” in “DEI” appear straight rather than flared. On the beaver side of the coin, the maple leaf appears further from the rim (roughly centered between the rim and the beaver). While these coins don’t quite command the premium of the 1953 NSF Near variety they are nonetheless quite rare and valuable. They can fetch anywhere from about one to four thousand dollars at auction, depending (as always) on their condition.
1925 5 cents
Up to this point on our list of rare Canadian nickels, we’ve seen coins that were rare and valuable because of some subtle change that set them apart from the millions of others that were made in a given year. This is not the case with the 1925 nickel. It’s just you’re garden variety rare date coin. If you happen to find one of these in grandma’s change dish, it is definitely a keeper. The mint made a little over 200,000 1925 nickels and this is the date missing from most nickel collections. You can pick up a low grade 1925 nickel for about $100 and high end mint state examples will run you between $5k-$10k.
The story of the 1947 “dot” coins has to do with India’s independence in 1947. Up to that time, the Latin wording on the obverse side of the coin read: “GEORGIVS VI D:G REX ET IND:IMP:”. This translated into George VI King and Emperor of India. When India gained independence, George VI was no longer emperor of India so this inscription needed to be removed.
There was a delay in getting the new dies to strike the 1948 coinage so to meet the demand for coins in early 1948 the mint struck 1947 coins with a small maple leaf next to the date. Over time however, the maple leaf on the die deteriorated to the point where it simply produced a small dot next to the date.
These so-called “dot” coins are highly prized by collectors and the 1947 dot 5 cents is no exception. Mid-grade examples can be purchased for $100-$300 and high end mint state examples can run anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500.
1926 Near 6
While not as rare or as valuable as the “Far 6” variety, the 1926 Near 6 is still a tough coin to find in its own right. Mid-grade examples sell for between $50 and $100, while high end mint state examples can fetch a couple of thousand at auction.
1938 5 cents
Under 4 million 1938 5 cent coins were made and it is a key date for the collection. Low end examples are relatively easy to find. In fact I’ve found at least one in my change when I was a kid. High end mint state examples will run anywhere from about $100 to $1,000.
1948 5 cents
The final coin on this list of rare Canadian nickels is the 1948 5 cents. As we discussed in the section on the 1947 dot 5 cent coin, the dies for the 1948 coinage were not available until later in the year so the mint only produced about 1.8 million 1948 nickels. Again, I’ve found a few in my change so they’re not super rare, but higher end mint state examples can sell for a few hundred dollars at auction.
For more information about Rare Canadian coins check out these titles from Amazon:
James A. Haxby’s A Guide Book of Canadian Coins
I hope you enjoyed this article on the top 10 Rare Canadian Nickels and don’t forget to check out my other articles on rare coins and investing in coins:
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