The Liberty nickel, often called the "V" nickel, describes a series of nickels minted between 1883 and 1912. They were the second run of 5 cent pieces to ever be created, the first being the Shield nickel minted between 1866 to 1883. 

Despite ending their official mint run in 1912, 5 pieces exist which bear a 1913 date. Nobody's sure how that happened, but collectors consider them to be genuine. These nickels are worth up to $5 million dollars. In 2018 the last Liberty Nickel that hadn't already been snapped up by museums and collectors went to auction.

While you're unlikely to ever get your hands on a 1913 liberty nickel, other coins in the run are extremely valuable to collectors when sold in good condition. 

Here are the top 10 according to the PCGS price guide. All prices listed are for coins in MS 67+ condition.

  1. The 1886 Liberty Nickel $70,000
  2. The 1889 MS Liberty Nickel  $42,500
  3. The 1912-D Liberty Nickel  $42,500
  4. The 1885 Liberty Nickel $38,500
  5. The 1902 Liberty Nickel $30,000
  6. The 1889 Liberty Nickel $27,500
  7. The 1896 Liberty Nickel $25,000
  8. The 1893 Liberty Nickel $20,000
  9. The 1901 Liberty Nickel $20,000
  10. The 1898 Liberty Nickel $14,000

It's far more common to find the coins in MS 66 condition, at which point these prices drop dramatically. Most Liberty Nickels go for between $1,000 and $3,000. 

Liberty nickels are made out of a copper and nickel alloy. They're a great example of a coin that can become worth far more than its melt value if it happens to capture the imagination of collectors.  

Of course, the condition of any given coin will have a huge impact on its value. If you happen to have Liberty nickels in your collection it's not a bad idea to have them graded and slabbed to preserve their value, if you haven't already. Grading will also give you a ballpark on how much the coin might be worth.

If you seek to add any of these nickels to your collection you should be careful. Work only with a reputable dealer, because these nickels are highly subject to counterfeits, especially for the years 1885, 1886, and 1912-S. The 1913 gets counterfeited on a regular basis as well, though after reading this post you should now be highly suspicious if you ever run across the 1913 in an accessible marketplace.

Will modern nickels ever become so valuable? That's unlikely. Most modern coins are too common to ever be worth much. Collectors who want to invest in modern coins will want to turn back towards precious metals, looking into American Gold and Silver eagles especially. Some of these coins have already captured collector attention, and unlike nickels they are made of precious metals capable of preserving value.

If you're a collector yourself and have the money to back up your asperations, then assembling a full set of Liberty nickels can be a lifetime project that's a lot of fun.