The Buffalo Nickel or Indian Head Nickel is a copper-nickel five-cent piece that was struck by the United States Mint from 1913 to 1938. It was designed by sculptor James Earle Fraser. The Buffalo Nickel is very popular among today's collectors. The older the Buffalo Nickel the better, but the age by itself does not determine value. Indian Head or Buffalo Nickels (1913-1938) can be simple and affordable to collect for the intermediate coin collector, or challenging enough for the advanced coin collector. Buffalo nickel values range from just a few cents for common dates in well-circulated grades to thousands of dollars for key dates in pristine uncirculated condition.
All Buffalo nickels have the designer's initials on it regardless of the mint facility where it was manufactured. If your coin has a mint mark, it will be under the buffalo on the reverse ('tails') side of the coin, below the words FIVE CENTS. If the Philadelphia mint produced the coin, there is no mint mark. In 1913 the U.S. Mint retired the Liberty Head nickel (or 'V' nickel).
- Buffalo Nickels
Buffalo nickel values reflect the huge demand for this highly popular coin. Minted from 1913 through 1938, the Buffalo nickel has a particularly romantic lore attached to it, largely due to the fact that the coin has a rugged, all-American design, which was created by James Earle Fraser. The obverse of the Buffalo nickel, values of which range from $1 to thousands of dollars, features an image of a Native American that is considered to be the composition of several individuals, including Two Moons, Iron Tail, and Big Tree, according to accounts from Fraser.
On the reverse is the coin’s famous bison – commonly referred to as a buffalo. The model for the beastly figure on the reverse of the coin was Black Diamond, an American bison that resided at the Central Park Zoo. Some numismatic scholars theorize that the bison model may have actually been a herd leader at the Bronx Zoo named, appropriately, Bronx.
No matter who the models were for the Buffalo nickel, what is known is this – these coins are highly popular among collectors. Buffalo nickel values are usually $1 to $3 for common, worn specimens. However some Buffalo nickels, such as the 1913-D Type II, 1913-S Type II, 1914-D, 1915-D, 1921-S, 1926-S, and 1937-D 3-legged variety are quite rare. Values for these key-date Buffalo nickels reach into the thousands of dollars.
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