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The Buffalo Nickel History and Values

Updated on October 6, 2011
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The Buffalo Nickel is an American coin that is worth 5 cents of a dollar or 5/100. Although the design of the coin is quite unique, there were many problems with the coin from constant circulation wearing. In fact, there are many of these coins that do not have a date on them, therefore they are basically worthless to any collector or buyer. The Buffalo Nickel, or often called the "Indian Head Nickel", was designed by Mr. James Earle Fraser. The Buffalo Nickel was first released on March 4th, 1913. The coin was produced from 1913 to 1938. The entire nickel was very bad to wear and it was a constant issue to the U.S. Mint. Production of the Indian Head Nickel was halted by 1938 and the design was replaced with the Jefferson Nickel. It is in law that a coin design can't be changed before 25 years unless it is autorized by congress.

The front of the coin depicts an Indian wearing tail feathers. The date is seen on the bottom left of the coin and is often worn off. "LIBERTY" is written on the top left obverse of the coin. On the reverse side, "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" is imprinted along the top rim of the coin. A buffalo is seen directly center of the coin. "FIVE CENTS" is centered on the bottom of the coin. The Buffalo Nickel was often reconfigured throughout its production because of the constant wear, but all types failed as they continued to wear very quickly.


As far as values goes, there are a few that are very valuable. The 1916 Double Die Buffalo Nickel is worth around $1,200 in average condition. There is distinct doubling on the obverse and reverse side of the coin that is easy to see. The 1913-S type 2 Buffalo Nickel also has added value. The coin is worth $120 in average condition. Keep in mind that these values are for a fine graded coin. The values increase with a higher graded coin. The 1918-D Buffalo Nickel is very rare. It is an error coin and valuable only if you can see an 8 over the 7 in the last number of the date. This type is worth $500 or more in good grade. Many have sold for well over a $1,000 in higher grade. The most famous Buffalo Nickel is probably the three legged Buffalo Nickel type. In 1937, some Buffalo Nickels were made with a three legged buffalo on the back of the coin. This coin can be worth thousands in great condition. It has a base price of around $200.

Buffalo Nickels were produced in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Philadelphia has no mint mark, Denver has a "D" mint mark, and San Francisco has a "S" mint mark. There were no Buffalo Nickels produced in 1922, 1932, and 1933. Most common dated Buffalo Nickels are valued around a few dollars up to $10-$20. If your coin doesn't have a date on it, it is only worth its copper and nickel content, which is not very much.

The value of your coin depends on the rarity and the condition of your coin. The better condition your coin is in, the more valuable it is. If you have any questions about your coins, be sure to leave me a comment and I will return your message. Please be sure to comeback and check with us as we continue to add more articles about coins each day.

The Buffalo Nickel design was also used for the $50 gold coin beginning in 2006.
The Buffalo Nickel design was also used for the $50 gold coin beginning in 2006. | Source
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    • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      7 years ago from West Virginia

      Gypsy, that is a great memory. I wish I was around during those days to hoard all the old coins! If people knew what they would be worth today!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      7 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Great reading about these buffalo nickles. I used to buy ice cream with them when I was a child.

    • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      7 years ago from West Virginia

      Cloverleaf, thanks for coming by. You are always welcome sweetie. I am glad you enjoy them. It is an influence when you and others give me feedback. It makes me enjoy writing. Thanks again and take care.

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 

      7 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi thelyricwriter, I really enjoy reading your hubs about different coins and their history, great stuff - well done!

      Voting up :-)

    • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      7 years ago from West Virginia

      Dahoglund, thanks so much for the comment. I have found one in my life and the date was worn, so I know it is basically worthless, but I hold on to it. Can't help but love old coins. Be good.

    • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      7 years ago from West Virginia

      Femmeflashpoint, I appreciate that notion. I sure hope so! Glad you like it. It is worth the second look. It can be rewarding for sure. Thanks for reading sweetie!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I remember buffalo nickels when I was a kid.It has been a long time since I have seen one though.voted up and interesting.

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 

      7 years ago

      Lyricwriter - you know? Your coin hubs could easily become an addiction, lol.

      The history on the coins you provide is quite interesting, and since I read the last one, I've been checking my change every time I use cash, to see if I've been handed anything collectible.

    • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      7 years ago from West Virginia

      Thank you for the comment Wannabwestern. I appreciate your time.

    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 

      7 years ago from Iowa

      This was so informative! Now I'll be looking for Buffalo nickels wherever I go.

    • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      7 years ago from West Virginia

      Cutters, thanks for the comment. In mint condition, you could be looking at a value of $30. Keep in mind, if it is a deepish red or red tent, values can climb up to $200-$650. It would be worth getting it graded.

    • Cutters profile image

      Cutters 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      I collect coins when I have the chance. I have a 1900 Indian head penny in mint condition. I found it in a penny dish at a gas station store. You can even read what is in the head band. I think it is cool.

    • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      7 years ago from West Virginia

      Thank you Rosemay. I do enjoy collecting coins and I would like to possibly influence other people to do so as well. It is a great hobby that can be rewarding.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      7 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      You do a good job with these hubs for coin enthusiasts. Coin collecting is obviously your passion.

      Breat well laid out and well written.

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