At 2014 pricing levels, a 1961 nickel is worth between its face value of 5 cents and a collector's value of 49 cents, depending on its condition. Coin collectors use a scale of good, fine, extremely fine and uncirculated to grade the condition of coins.
Nickels minted between 1938 and 1964 are called Jefferson nickels. They are graded based on the readability of the words and letters on the coin. Coins with worn-down letters are likely to fall in the good grade. The most valuable Jefferson nickels are those dated between 1942 and 1945, known as wartime silver Jefferson nickels.