Updated Buffalo Nickel Values with Pricing
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people found themselves experimenting with new hobbies to fill their time.
Coin collecting became a popular pastime because it embraces history, offers a family-like culture, and doesn’t cost much to get started.
One of the first coins that many collectors get is the Buffalo nickel.
Sometimes referred to as the “Indian Head” nickel, the United States produced this five-cent coin from 1913 to 1938.
What makes it such a popular coin is its versatility.
If you’re just getting started, you can get some common dates in circulated condition without paying much.
When you’re an advanced collector, finding an important date in uncirculated condition can be quite challenging.
History of the Buffalo Nickels in the United States
James Earl Fraser receives credit for designing both sides of the Buffalo nickel, referred to as the obverse and reverse.
His work was part of the Renaissance of American Coinage that began under the guidance of President Teddy Roosevelt.
On the obverse, you’ll see a Native American facing to the right, using Fraser’s trademark rustic design to make it a standout piece.
Although some people still claim it is a specific individual, the portrait is an imagined combination of several tribal chiefs from history.
The reverse features the iconic American buffalo that gives the nickel its name.
It is popularly believed that Fraser modeled his design after an animal at the NYC Zoo at the time named Black Diamond.
No one has ever been able to refute or confirm the idea.
The first design had the buffalo standing on a dirt mound with “Five Cents” rising above it.
This feature ended up being a flaw as the denomination wore off prematurely.
That’s why there is a second type for the year, with the update placing the value below the coin’s rim instead.
What Are the Key Dates of the Buffalo Nickels?
If you find an original Buffalo nickel from one of the following years or production lines, it is worth considerably more than one considered common.
You’ll get even more value from the coin when it gets graded as being in an uncirculated condition.
A word of caution before you start checking your change: counterfeits are quite common with this coin.
Before you attempt to sell one or buy one for your collection, have it authenticated by a trustworthy third-party service.
The best Buffalo nickels to collect are as follows.
- 1913-S Type 2
- 1916-16 Doubled Die
- 1918-D Doubled Die 8-over-7
- 1937-D The Three-Legged Buffalo
If you’re new to coin collecting for American pieces, the letter behind the date indicates what mint produced the item. “S” stands for San Francisco, while “D” means the U.S. made it in Denver.
A Buffalo nickel with only a date indicates that it was most likely created in Philadelphia.
What Are the Prices of a Buffalo Nickel Today?
The most affordable Buffalo nickels to start collecting today are the ones in circulated condition from the later years printed by the mint.
Anything made in 1935 as a standard coin without a doubled die error or some other malfunction retails for approximately $1 in 2020.
If you want something with more rarity, the Buffalo nickels in circulated condition from 1927 on are typically under $3.
However, a 1927-D in that condition was selling at an average price of $4.70 for the year.
When your goals are to be an intermediate collector, Buffalo nickels’ circulated condition in its first production years is typically under $50, with some exceptions.
The 1913-S Type 2 Buffalo Nickel was selling for $290, while the 1913-S Type 1 sold for $42.
The uncirculated coins bring in the most money, especially when they are a highly collectible item.
Here are the prices for the collectible coins listed above for 2020.
- 1913-S Type 2 Uncirculated: $900
- 1916-16 Doubled Die Uncirculated: $110,000
- 1918-D Doubled Die 8-over-7 Uncirculated: $43,000
- 1921-S Uncirculated: $1,900
- 1924-S Uncirculated: $2,700
- 1926-S Uncirculated: $6,400
- 1937-D The Three-Legged Buffalo Uncirculated: $3,300
That’s why you must be careful to avoid counterfeits when trying to add these specific coins to your collection.
Without authenticity or verification, you will never know for certain if what you’ve purchased is the real thing.
Buffalo nickels are an exciting first coin to collect because they check all of the boxes for collectors.
It’s a historic item with a fascinating story that people still love to have, even if they don’t consider themselves a collector.
That’s why they’ll always have value.
1913-S Type 2 ($900 worth)
1916-16 Doubled Die ($110,000 worth)
1918 D Doubled Die 8 over 7 ($43,000 worth)
1921 S ($1,900 worth)
1924 S ($2,700 worth)
1926 S ($6,400 worth)
1937 D ($3,300 worth)
Photo credits NGC Coin