Indian Head (Buffalo) Nickels (1913-1938)

General Coin Information

The Indian Head Nickel was introduced by the US Mint in 1913 and was struck for circulating currency through 1938. While the official name "Indian Head Nickel" certainly describes the coin, most refer to it as the Buffalo Nickel.

Featured on the reverse of the coin is an image of an American Bison, known incorrectly by most as a Buffalo. When settlers first encountered these enormous creatures, they did not know what to call them and compared them to the water buffalo they were familiar with from other continents. Consequently, the name stuck and today Americans use the terms buffalo and bison interchangeably.

Designer James Earl Fraser supposedly used a bison known as 'Black Diamond" in the New York Park Central Zoo as his model for the coin, which originally had the animal on a mound. Premature wear of the denominational inscription of "Five Cents" forced an almost immediate design change to lower the profile of that mound.

Collectors will find that Indian Head Nickels are quite easy and for the most part affordable to collect. It was quite common for many of these coins to be found in pocket change well into the 1960's.

Obverse Design

The obverse of the Buffalo contains an image of a Native American Indian. It is said that the designer Fraser used three different models (all Indian Chiefs) to create the profile. The inscriptions "Liberty" and the date are also found on the obverse.

Reverse Design

Featured on the reverse of the Indian Head Nickel is an image of an American Bison (also known to many as a buffalo), thus giving the coin its nick-name of buffalo nickel. The inscriptions "United States of America," "Five Cents" and the mintmark (if present) are also shown on the reverse.

Indian Head Nickel Coin Specifications

   
   Mint: United States Mint
   Finish/Condition: Circulated
   Metal Content: 75% copper, 25% nickel
   Weight: 5 gms
   Diameter: 21.2mm
   Edge: plain
   Issue Date: 1913-1938
   Face Value: $.05
   Obverse Designer/Sculptor: James Earle Fraser
   Reverse Designer/Sculptor: James Earle Fraser

Featured Indian Head Nickel Auctions




Lot of 3 1934 Buffalo Nickels Uncirculated
Lot of 3 1934 Buffalo Nickels Uncirculated
$99.95
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Lot of 7 1917 S Buffalo Nickels Nice Circulated
Lot of 7 1917 S Buffalo Nickels Nice Circulated
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Lot of 25 1917 S Buffalo Nickels Mostly Goods
Lot of 25 1917 S Buffalo Nickels Mostly Goods
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Old Coins 19261927 Buffalo Nickels Lot72
Old Coins 19261927 Buffalo Nickels Lot72
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1921P buffalo nickel
1921P buffalo nickel
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1936 5C Buffalo Nickel Choice Uncirculated Full Horn Indian Head 5C 014
1936 5C Buffalo Nickel Choice Uncirculated Full Horn Indian Head 5C 014
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1937 Buffalo Nickel
1937 Buffalo Nickel
$0.50
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1937D BUFFALO NICKEL EXTRA FINE FULL HORN
1937D BUFFALO NICKEL EXTRA FINE FULL HORN
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1934 D 5C Buffalo Nickel VF Extremely Fine 5C 008
1934 D 5C Buffalo Nickel VF Extremely Fine 5C 008
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1918 7 D Buffalo Nickel 5C PCGS XF Details EF Rare Overdate Variety Coin
1918 7 D Buffalo Nickel 5C PCGS XF Details EF Rare Overdate Variety Coin
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1926 D Buffalo Nickel Nice Problem Free Original Coin Half Horn  139
1926 D Buffalo Nickel Nice Problem Free Original Coin Half Horn 139
$23.00
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51 acid dated buffalo nickels all dates can be found
51 acid dated buffalo nickels all dates can be found
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Indian Head Nickel Resources

World Mint Coins | Coin Specifications, Resources and Coin Images