Buffalo Nickels range in value from only a few cents to thousands of dollars. A Buffalo Nickel’s worth depends on a few factors–specifically, the coin’s mint date, rarity, and condition. Here, we break down the history of the buffalo nickel and the ten most valuable coins in this series.
The Buffalo Nickel was struck from 1913 to 1938. Its popularity is primarily due to its design of an Indian chief on the obverse and an American buffalo on the reverse. These design motifs play into the American romanticization of the “Wild West” that began with Lewis and Clark’s expedition to the Pacific Northwest in the early 1800s.
This series was minted at three different US Mint facilities: Philadelphia (no mint mark), San Francisco (S mint mark), and Denver (D mint mark).
If you are interested in adding buffalo nickels to your collection, here are the six most valuable coins in this series.
The San Francisco Mint struck a particularly poor batch of Buffalo Nickels in 1917. This was because most manufacturing processes were focused on producing goods for the war effort during World War I. This low-quality mintage makes any high-quality examples from the 1917 batch extremely rare. High-quality 1917-S Buffalo Nickels are worth up to $138,000.
The Buffalo Nickel was first produced in 1913. The first type of this nickel had the FIVE CENTS denomination struck on a raised mound. However, this raised feature wore away quickly once the coins entered circulation, so a second type of the 1913 nickel was produced. The Type 2 buffalo nickels featured a recessed denomination to correct this problem of it prematurely wearing off the coin. Type II nickels are extremely rare in mint conditions, and they are worth up to $143,750.
The 1916 Buffalo Nickel is notable due to its doubled die mint error. The last two digits on the date are doubled; you can see the duplicate numbers slightly to the right of the original numbers. Because it took years for a numismatist to discover the error, the majority of these coins are in poor condition due to being circulated. In mint condition, these coins are worth up to $281,750.
The 1926-S Buffalo Nickel has the lowest mintage of the entire series. The San Francisco mint struck only 970,000 of these nickels in 1926. This coin is extremely rare in mint condition and is the rarest non-variety nickel in this series. These coins may be worth up to $322,000.
This coin is one of the most important coin rarities of the 20th century. This coin was created by mistake when a 1917 hub and a 1918 hub were both used to impress a single die. This resulted in a doubled die overdate on the obverse. This coin also shows a striking left-tilting D mintmark. The 1918/7-D nickel may be worth up to $350,750 in its most pristine condition.
If you have any questions about the buffalo nickel series, don’t hesitate to contact our experts for further information about these fascinating coins.
**Prices stated in this article are subjective and not intended to project actual value. All coin prices are dependent on several factors including and notwithstanding, condition, demand and availability, just to mention a few.