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Values For Buffalo Nickels

Updated on November 21, 2011

Value of Buffalo Nickels

Prized among coin collectors, the Buffalo or Indian Head Nickel was a rather short mintage of Nickels that have great value. Unlike the Jefferson Nickel that continues to be minted today after 74 years, the Buffalo Nickel was only minted for 35! With a short mintage, many error coins, and an overall weak design that led to the premature wear of minted dates, the value of Buffalo Nickels continues to increase. This article will cover the history, metal composition and valuable key dates for the Buffalo Nickel collection. So if you have a few laying around somewhere, break them out and discover the values for buffalo nickels.

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Value of Buffalo Nickels. 1936D Buffalo Nickel Shown Above.
Value of Buffalo Nickels. 1936D Buffalo Nickel Shown Above.

American Nickel Guides -

History of the Buffalo Nickel:

  • As a replacement coinage for the Liberty Head Nickel, the Buffalo design was released in 1913 for circulation. The designer of this nickel was James Earle Fraser. His initial F can be observed below the date.
  • In the first year of circulation, 1913, there were two varieties of minted Buffalo Nickels. The first variety is known as the “raised Ground” variety and depicts the buffalo standing on a mound. The second, known as the “Recess” variety pictures the buffalo standing on flat ground. The design was left unchanged for the rest of the mintage.
  • Although the history of the Buffalo Nickel is rather straightforward, it’s important to note that its mintage was plagued with errors and poor designing. Even though Buffalo Nickels were minted less than half as long, they contain the same number of recognized Mint errors as the Jefferson Nickel Collection. More troublesome than the errors was the poor die designing. Due to the raised features, it is not uncommon to see Buffalo Nickels with their dates worn completely off.

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Composition and Melt Value:

  • Weight – 5.0 Grams
  • Metal Composition - 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
  • Melt Value - $.06

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Buffalo Nickel Reverse showing D Mintmark below "FIVE CENTS"
Buffalo Nickel Reverse showing D Mintmark below "FIVE CENTS"

Value of Buffalo Nickels:

Unlike the Jefferson Nickel collection that is relatively easy and inexpensive to collect, the Buffalo Nickel collection is known to be a very valuable and a hard to collect set. Its value comes from the sheer amount of Buffalo Nickels whose date has been worn completely off, rendering them worth only melt value. Many key date nickels have been lost due to their dates being worn off, putting great pressure on surviving specimens. With more and more dateless Buffalo Nickels, readable-date nickels have increased much in value. Below is a list of valuable key date and error coins from the Buffalo Nickel mintage:

Date-less Nickel. This could have been a Key Date, but excessive wear has left this Nickel virtually worthless.
Date-less Nickel. This could have been a Key Date, but excessive wear has left this Nickel virtually worthless.

Did You Know?

The value of your Buffalo Nickel is dependent on its "Grade," or more commonly know as its condition. It's a good idea to be familiar with the Coin Grading Scale if you're going to find out exactly how much your Nickel is worth!

Heavily Worn Buffalo Nickel
Heavily Worn Buffalo Nickel

Key Date Buffalo Nickels:

  • 1913D – Variety 2. Valued at $100-400
  • 1913S – Variety 2. Valued at $300-1,000+
  • 1914D – Valued at $75-500
  • 1915S – Valued at $30-850
  • 1921S – Valued at $80-2,000+

Semi Key Dates:

  • 1913S – Variety 1. Valued at $30-175
  • 1914S – Valued at $15-425
  • 1917S – Valued at $20-1,300
  • 1924S – Valued at $20-1,000+
  • 1926S – Valued at $20-1,000+
  • 1931S – Valued at $15-100

Error Buffalo Nickels:

  • 1914 – 4 over 3 Error. Valued at $400-2,000
  • 1916 – Double Die Obverse. Valued at $2,000-120,000+
  • 1918D – 8 over 7 Error. Valued at $1,500-50,000+
  • 1935 – Double Die Reverse. Valued at $30-1,500+
  • 1936D – Three &1/2 Legs Error. Valued at $200-1,000+
  • 1937D - Three Legged Error. Valued at $500-5,000+
  • 1938D – D over S Error. Valued at $5-80

Overall, you’re probably not going to find any Buffalo Nickels worth much value left in circulation. Only every once in a blue moon do I run across one of these in the general public, but you never know what will show up at estate sales! Good luck in your coin hunting.

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That concludes this article of Values for Buffalo Nickels. I hope that you've enjoyed the read, but also are able to take away some new information. I appreciate you stopping by to read! If you are still interested in learning more about American Coins, please read up on my other great coin articles:

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    • profile image

      B hurst 

      7 weeks ago

      I have several buffalo nickles and only maybe 3 thats to where i can't read date my grandad and his twin brother where coin lovers at the end of his collecting he started getting error coins im sure i have 200 pennies ranging from 1916 to date ...color size and missing pieces. Die errors what would be my best move if i where to sell them i do know ive looked through them however im not an expert by no means when i found a 1955 that it sure could be double die i just have no idea where to even start thank u so much for any help is so appreciated

    • profile image

      DeeDarlin39 

      5 years ago

      I have a set of 6 Buffalo nickels in the case and a Morgan silver dollar new Orleans. Are they worth much. Please help.much appreciated. Thanks!

    • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

      Zach 

      5 years ago from Colorado

      Steve, it sounds highly likely that your coin has been modified outside of the mint. It might be interesting, but probably worth very little.

    • profile image

      steve 

      5 years ago

      i have a 1935 indian head on one side an a 1937 indian head

      on the other side nickel. what would be the value of this coin ?

      thank you for your time an consideration .

    • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

      Zach 

      6 years ago from Colorado

      Yes, I forgot to mention that in the article. Glad to see that someone knows their history.

    • Mustashio profile image

      Mustashio 

      6 years ago

      Here is an interesting fact about the buffalo nickel.James Earle Fraser used a bison from the Bronx zoo named black diamond as the model for the coin

    • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

      Zach 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      Hey thanks so much for the feedback. I decided to write the articles for just your reasoning. I figured it would be much better if all the information was just together.

    • galleryofgrace profile image

      galleryofgrace 

      7 years ago from Virginia

      Really good information. It's so much easier to look here for coin values rather than searching several websites. I have to go check mine I did not know the mint letter was on the other side.

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