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Buffalo Nickel History

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The Buffalo nickel design came about because President Theodore Roosevelt had the intent to rebirth U.S. coinage. President Roosevelt's goal was to implement more artistic values in our coins. Since the US 5 cent was a coin with such a prestigious status, it deserved a design worthy of its status. In turn, the Buffalo nickel was created.

The obverse of the Buffalo Nickel featured a side profile of a Native American Indian with such intense detailing you can make out the structure of this individual's face! It is said the Buffalo Nickel's obverse design was made using multiple Native American facial features from several different tribes. Due to the “heads” side of the Buffalo Nickel, it has been referred to by another name as well, the Indian Head Nickel. On the reverse of the coin lies a majestic American bison or buffalo, hence the name Buffalo Nickel. The designer of the Buffalo nickel was James Earle Fraser, an apprentice to Augustus Saint Guadens, designer of the famous and what is considered the most beautiful gold coin of all time, the $20 Saint Gaudens.

The Buffalo nickel was first released to the public on February 22,1913 and minted from 1913 to 1938. The Buffalo Nickel's elegant design lasted for 25 years until it was replaced by the Jefferson nickel. The Buffalo Nickel was minted in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. This coin is still popular to collectors today, with many collectors trying to claim the full set. 

Collectors often try to put together complete sets of the Buffalo Nickel or just buy them in rolls of 40 coins. These sets are often relatively inexpensive in circulated condition, however there are some key dates that are more expensive and harder to find. Some key date examples are the following:

-1913 S Type II Buffalo Nickel

-1915 S Buffalo Nickel

-1918/7 D Buffalo Nickel 

Buffalo Nickel Mintages and Values

Date Mintage Good Very Fine Extremely Fine Uncirculated
1913 Buffalo Nickel (Variety I) 30,992,000 $12.00 $20.00 $25.00 $45.00
1913-D Buffalo Nickel (Variety I) 5,337,000 $15.00 $35.00 $40.00 $75.00
1913-S Buffalo Nickel (Variety I) 2,105,000 $45.00 $70.00 $85.00 $130.00
1913 Buffalo Nickel (Variety II) 29,857,186 $10.00 $20.00 $25.00 $40.00
1913-D Buffalo Nickel (Variety II) 4,156,000 $120.00 $200.00 $235.00 $300.00
1913-S Buffalo Nickel (Variety II) 1,209,000 $250.00 $275.00 $550.00 $900.00
1914 Buffalo Nickel 20,664,463 $20.00 $30.00 $35.00 $60.00
1914-D Buffalo Nickel 3,912,000 $90.00 $220.00 $325.00 $450.00
1914-S Buffalo Nickel 3,470,000 $26.00 $65.00 $90.00 $200.00
1915 Buffalo Nickel 20,986,220 $6.00 $15.00 $25.00 $60.00
1915-D Buffalo Nickel 7,569,000 $20.00 $70.00 $130.00 $270.00
1915-S Buffalo Nickel 1,505,000 $45.00 $200.00 $400.00 $650.00
1916 Buffalo Nickel 63,497,466 $6.00 $10.00 $15.00 $50.00
1916-D Buffalo Nickel 13,333,000 $16.00 $45.00 $90.00 $175.00
1916-S Buffalo Nickel 11,860,000 $10.00 $40.00 $90.00 $190.00
1917 Buffalo Nickel 51,424,019 $8.00 $12.00 $15.00 $60.00
1917-D Buffalo Nickel 9,910,000 $18.00 $85.00 $150.00 $375.00
1917-S Buffalo Nickel 4,193,000 $22.00 $115.00 $200.00 $650.00
1918 Buffalo Nickel 32,086,314 $6.00 $15.00 $35.00 $125.00
1918-D Buffalo Nickel 8,362,000 $22.00 $135.00 $225.00 $550.00
1918-S Buffalo Nickel 4,882,000 $14.00 $110.00 $200.00 $585.00
1919 Buffalo Nickel 60,868,000 $2.25 $8.00 $15.00 $55.00
1919-D Buffalo Nickel 8,006,000 $15.00 $135.00 $250.00 $700.00
1919-S Buffalo Nickel 7,521,000 $9.00 $125.00 $250.00 $675.00
1920 Buffalo Nickel 63,093,000 $1.50 $7.00 $15.00 $65.00
1920-D Buffalo Nickel 9,418,000 $8.00 $115.00 $175.00 $600.00
1920-S Buffalo Nickel 9,689,000 $4.50 $100.00 $200.00 $650.00
1921 Buffalo Nickel 10,663,000 $4.00 $24.00 $50.00 $150.00
1921-S Buffalo Nickel 1,557,000 $60.00 $375.00 $950.00 $1,750.00
1923 Buffalo Nickel 35,715,000 $2.00 $6.00 $15.00 $65.00
1923-S Buffalo Nickel 6,142,000 $8.00 $135.00 $250.00 $600.00
1924 Buffalo Nickel 21,620,000 $1.50 $10.00 $25.00 $75.00
1924-D Buffalo Nickel 5,258,000 $8.50 $85.00 $235.00 $450.00
1925 Buffalo Nickel 35,565,100 $3.00 $8.00 $15.00 $45.00
1925-D Buffalo Nickel 4,450,000 $10.00 $95.00 $165.00 $450.00
1925-S Buffalo Nickel 6,256,000 $5.00 $90.00 $180.00 $600.00
1926 Buffalo Nickel 44,693,000 $1.25 $5.00 $10.00 $35.00
1926-D Buffalo Nickel 5,638,000 $10.00 $110.00 $185.00 $350.00
1926-S Buffalo Nickel 970,000 $25.00 $275.00 $900.00 $4,500.00
1927 Buffalo Nickel 7,981,000 $1.25 $5.00 $15.00 $35.00
1927-D Buffalo Nickel 5,730,000 $2.50 $35.00 $80.00 $165.00
1927-S Buffalo Nickel 3,430,000 $1.50 $35.00 $95.00 $850.00
1928 Buffalo Nickel 23,411,000 $1.25 $5.00 $15.00 $35.00
1928-D Buffalo Nickel 6,436,000 $1.50 $15.00 $45.00 $60.00
1928-S Buffalo Nickel 6,936,000 $1.75 $11.00 $26.00 $260.00
1929 Buffalo Nickel 36,446,000 $1.25 $5.00 $15.00 $40.00
1929-D Buffalo Nickel 8,370,000 $1.25 $7.00 $32.00 $60.00
1929-S Buffalo Nickel 7,754,000 $1.25 $4.00 $12.00 $55.00
1930 Buffalo Nickel 22,849,000 $1.25 $4.00 $11.00 $35.00
1930-S Buffalo Nickel 5,435,000 $1.25 $4.00 $15.00 $65.00
1931-S Buffalo Nickel 1,200,000 $15.00 $25.00 $35.00 $65.00
1934 Buffalo Nickel 202,113,003 $1.25 $4.00 $10.00 $50.00
1934-D Buffalo Nickel 7,180,000 $1.50 $9.00 $20.00 $80.00
1935 Buffalo Nickel 58,264,000 $1.00 $2.00 $5.00 $22.00
1935-D Buffalo Nickel 12,092,000 $1.00 $6.00 $18.00 $75.00
1935-S Buffalo Nickel 10,300,000 $1.00 $2.50 $4.00 $55.00
1936 Buffalo Nickel 118,997,000 $1.00 $2.00 $3.00 $25.00
1936-D Buffalo Nickel 24,814,000 $1.00 $2.00 $4.00 $40.00
1936-S Buffalo Nickel 14,930,000 $1.00 $2.00 $4.00 $38.00
1937 Buffalo Nickel 79,480,000 $1.00 $2.00 $3.00 $25.00
1937-D Buffalo Nickel 17,826,000 $1.00 $3.00 $4.00 $35.00
1937-S Buffalo Nickel 5,635,000 $1.00 $3.00 $6.00 $32.00
1938-D Buffalo Nickel 7,020,000 $3.50 $4.75 $5.00 $22.00

*Source 2020 Red Book