First verify that the back side really is struck upside-down. Hold the coin with Jefferson's face upright. Your fingers should be holding the coin on the right & left sides -- NOT at the top & bottom. Now when you flip the coin over like the page of a calendar, the shaking hands or keelboat should be right-side-up facing you. (The Jefferson head becomes upside-down on the side away from you). This is known as a "coin turn".
If you were holding the coin at the top & bottom and you flip it side to side like a book page, the shaking hands or keelboat would (normally) be upside-down facing you, while the Jefferson head would remain right side up (on the back side). This is called a "medal turn".
If you did the above "coin turn", and the shaking hands or keelboat design is now upside-down, then you have a rare rotated die error -- perhaps worth hundreds of dollars. If you did the "coin turn" and the shaking hands or keelboat is now right-side-up, you have a normal coin.Rotated Die StrikesWhen you say it is upside down, are you turning it side-to-side like turning pages in a book, or top-to-bottom? The reverse should be upside down when turning side-to-side, but if it is not you have a rotated reverse which could be fairly valuable, but nothing to plan your early retirement around. Search eBay for other modern coins (probably statehood quarters have shown up) with "rotated" in the description.
The simplest and most obvious thing to do is to look at other coins in your change. This question comes up very frequently and can almost always be addressed by simply looking beyond the one coin in your hand at the moment. In fact, ALL current circulating U.S. coins have the sides oriented oppositely when flipped side to side like a book page.
Some countries (Canada, U.K, EU) use what's called "medal rotation" where both sides are oriented the same way when flipped side to side. Neither is right or wrong, they're just different.
Whether it is upside-down or not depends on which way you turn the coin. Coin turn -- if you flip the coin from top to bottom, on U.S. coins the back side image should appear upright. Medal turn -- if you flip the coin from side to side, on U.S. coins the back side image will be upside-down. If you turn the coin with a "coin turn", and the back side image is upside-down, then you have a very rare error that will be worth hundreds of dollars. You would need to get the coin certified and encapsulated -- check out http://www.pcgs.com I , Dan The best thing to do is to try the same flip with other coins from your pocket change. If they all are oriented the same way then you have a normal circulation nickel worth five cents. All U.S. coins in current circulation use "coin turn" orientation, regardless of the design. Other countries (Canada, U.K., EU, for example) use "medal turn". Neither use is right or wrong, just different.
If you check the coins in your pocket change you'll see that they all have the front and back oriented 180º to each other. The sides point oppositely when a coin is flipped side to side like the page of a book, so being "upside down" is perfectly normal. There's more information at the question "What is the value of a 1936 US nickel?"
The first nickels were minted in 1866.Prior to that time 5-cent coins were smaller, made from silver, and called half-dimes. If you have a coin that says HALF DIME on the back, an 1861 coin in good condition (G4) is worth $20.00; if it's mint state is MS60, the value is: $200.00.If it looks like a regular nickel, you are probably looking at a 1981 nickel from the wrong angle. (1981 upside-down is 1861)The US Mint did not produce a nickel in 1861.
Be sure you're clear about what it means for the back of a coin to be "upside down". ALL U.S. coins minted since the 19th century have the front and back oriented 180º to each other so that the sides point oppositely when a coin is flipped side to side like the page of a book. Many other countries (Canada, UK, EU) use what's called "medal rotation" where both sides point the same way. Compare the coin to others in your pocket. If they all have the same orientation, your "upside down" one is normal. If your nickel has both of them pointing the same way, it should be evaluated by an expert.
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