Coin collecting is a timeless hobby that many still enjoy today, and Buffalo nickels – one of the oldest coins of its kind – remain the most valuable even to this date.
The United States Mint produced these five-cent coins from 1913-1938. They also feature one of the most iconic designs in US coinage. Overall, the design depicts the profile of a Native American facing the right side, with an American grazing bison on the reverse side.
Although still highly sought-after in the market, even the most valuable Buffalo nickels only have partial dates present on the body. This is mainly because of how sculptor James Earle Fraser designed the coins.
James was bitter about the Buffalo nickels replacing his own nickel designs – a key reason why he put little to no effort into sculpting these coins.
However, even to this date, Buffalo nickels still hold a lot of value due to their widespread use from 1913 to 1938.
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What Will I Learn?
- How Much Is a Buffalo Nickel Worth Now?
- Why Some Buffalo Nickels Have No Date
- Identifying an Indian Head Nickel with No Date
- In-depth Buffalo Nickel Value Chart
- What Are Some Buffalo Nickel Key Dates?
- How Can You Tell If a Buffalo Nickel Is Rare?
- Features of the 2005 Buffalo Nickel | How You Can Identify It
- What Do the Letters on My 1936 Buffalo Nickel Mean?
- Final Words
How Much Is a Buffalo Nickel Worth Now?
Many Buffalo nickels have survived the test of time. As such, they are a welcome addition to any coin collection. While they won’t usually bring astronomical returns, most Buffalo nickels continue to possess inherent value and offer a glimpse at history.
Originally five cents, at minimum, Buffalo nickels now trade for 20 cents or more. However, the prices can vary greatly depending on the mint marks, date, and condition.
A dateless Buffalo nickel will usually be heavily worn and fetch lower prices. On the other hand, coin collectors can expect higher face value returns for those kept in extremely fine condition.
Why Some Buffalo Nickels Have No Date
The main reason why many Buffalo nickels have no date on them is because of rough usage and wear over time. It’s not like the coins have no date imprinted. Unlike true error coins, dateless Buffalo nickels had good circulation, thus eventually smudging the coin’s design.
Identifying an Indian Head Nickel with No Date
The original Buffalo nickel had “five cents” engraved under the bison on the coin’s reverse side. However, the coin was soon reworked because of the prematurely wiped-out denomination.
As a result, the United States Mint introduced a new design with the denomination placed between a recessed space under the mound the bison was standing on. This change prevented the date from prematurely fading due to rough usage and high wear and tear.
Countless Buffalo nickels are without dates, but it’s now easier to discover the date through acid testing. However, collectors should do acid testing cautiously because the chemical can damage the coin body.
Also, it’s good to know that most of the nickels only have the first two digits missing (which is always 19), mainly because of the high-traffic placement.
In-depth Buffalo Nickel Value Chart
You can identify rare buffalo nickels by checking the condition of the coin, the amount of wear, and the mint mark.
Nickels in an extremely fine or almost uncirculated state with minimal wear are the most valuable. On the other hand, circulated nickels that are typically in the best grade can fetch a moderate price.
Lastly, heavily worn coins might still be a valuable collectible; however, the face value of the coins will be only five cents.
Regardless of the date, Buffalo nickel value charts can also help you understand what your collection might sell for in 2023:
1937 Buffalo Nickel Value
The Philadelphia Mint-struck coin has a total value of $18, whereas the Denver and San Francisco Mint-struck alternatives typically sell for $18 and $19, respectively.
1936 Buffalo Nickel Value
Similar to the previous coin type, Philadelphia Minted 1936 coins will sell for $17, while the Denver and San Francisco versions sell for $28 and $23, respectively.
1947 Buffalo Nickel Value
The US Mint replaced the original Buffalo nickel with the 1947 Thomas Jefferson nickel in 1939, which is still widely in production today. However, the uncirculated coins can sell for $0.35 max.
2005 Buffalo Nickel Value
An extra fine 2005 Buffalo nickel can sell for $35, but those with a satin finish can sell for more than $180.
What Are Some Buffalo Nickel Key Dates?
Not sure how to determine the value of your Buffalo nickel collection? The following key dates might help you:
As mentioned above, the Buffalo nickel’s condition and grade make it valuable. Coins that are in extremely fine condition or even in a good grade can command a higher price than coins with heavy wear or even partial dates.
How Can You Tell If a Buffalo Nickel Is Rare?
Whether you are a serious or casual coin collector, Buffalo nickels are one of the most iconic coins to collect due to their unique designs and the inscription “E Pluribus Unum” on the reverse side.
However, regardless of the production date, Buffalo nickels with specific errors are still considered the rarest by numismatic experts.
One such occurrence is the doubled die variety in the 1918 D collection produced by the Denver Mint. This line of the Indian Head coins had specific denominations replaced on the obverse side.
If you look closely, you can spot an “8” covering a “7” on the bottom of the rare nickel. The Denver Mint produced over 100,000 coins. As a result, the uncirculated coins are still considered very rare and valuable in 2023.
Coin collectors can expect the value of such uncirculated specimens to cross $50,000! On the other hand, well-preserved alternatives can still sell for $1,000+.
Features of the 2005 Buffalo Nickel | How You Can Identify It
The US Mint circulated the original five-cent Buffalo nickel with an Indian on the obverse and bison on the reverse from 1913 to 1938. However, it introduced the new Thomas Jefferson version in early 1939, which stayed untouched till 2005.
This new nickel has a zoomed-in image of Thomas Jefferson facing right on the obverse. It also has an inscription of “In God, We Trust” and “2005” on the far-right side of the coin. However, the best part about the coin is the “Liberty” inscription written in the President’s handwriting.
On the other side of the coin, we can see that Jamie Frankie (designer of the 2005 coin) kept the original American bison in the middle, with the inscription “United States of America” curving on the top.
He also added “five cents” on the bottom, with “E Pluribus Unum” engraved right under the grazing bison.
What Do the Letters on My 1936 Buffalo Nickel Mean?
Confused why your Buffalo nickel has a small “F” imprinted on the bottom? All Buffalo nickels produced have an “F” under the date. This is just an initial of the coin designer’s last name, Fraser.
Coin collectors might also see other letters imprinted on the reverse side of the date. Buffalo nickels with the letters “S” and “D” depict the coin’s mint mark.
The “S” stands for the San Francisco Mint mark, whereas the “D” is the Denver Mint mark. However, you won’t be able to find any Philadelphia mint-produced marks on any of the coins.
Buffalo nickels have a rich and storied history, making them incredibly valuable and popular among serious coin collectors. There are several varieties of Buffalo nickels, and each one is unique.
Many of the original bullion, which was worth five cents, circulated before collectors could save them for their collections, making uncirculated specimens extremely rare and expensive.
Knowing the mintage numbers and condition of the coins can help you evaluate the nickels in your collection and determine their value. As with any treasure, the rarer the coin, the more valuable it will be.
Whether you are a novice collector or an experienced numismatist, Buffalo nickels are an exciting coin type to pursue.
They are beautiful, valuable, and historically significant. With its powerful imagery, detailing, and unique design elements, the Buffalo nickel is sure to remain a collectors-favorite through the years.