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




Assorted Date Old American Buffalo Nickel Lot Collection US Coins
Assorted Date Old American Buffalo Nickel Lot Collection US Coins
$5.99
Time Remaining: 31m

Bid now | Add to watch list

ROLL BUFFALO NICKELS 1920 1929 WITH MINT MARKS
ROLL BUFFALO NICKELS 1920 1929 WITH MINT MARKS
$39.90
Time Remaining: 31m
Buy It Now for only: $39.90
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1920 S BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY  BETTER DATE  W8323
1920 S BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY BETTER DATE W8323
$0.99
Time Remaining: 32m

Bid now | Add to watch list

1913 d Buffalo Nickel Type 1 MS 64 NGC Beauty Nice FREE SHIPPING
1913 d Buffalo Nickel Type 1 MS 64 NGC Beauty Nice FREE SHIPPING
$129.00
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $129.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1915 Buffalo Nickel PCGS MS 64 Beauty Sharp Nice FREE SHIPPING
1915 Buffalo Nickel PCGS MS 64 Beauty Sharp Nice FREE SHIPPING
$159.00
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $159.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
Handmade bracelet Buffalo Leather cuff wristband Buffalo Indian Nickel coin
Handmade bracelet Buffalo Leather cuff wristband Buffalo Indian Nickel coin
$39.90
Time Remaining: 33m

Bid now | Add to watch list

1917 P Buffalo Nickel
1917 P Buffalo Nickel
$5.77
Time Remaining: 34m
Buy It Now for only: $7.77
Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list
5 Early Date S Buffalo Nickel Lot Acid Dates
5 Early Date S Buffalo Nickel Lot Acid Dates
$4.00
Time Remaining: 34m
Buy It Now for only: $6.00
Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list
1914 D Buffalo Nickel Key Date 1914 D Indian Head Nickle
1914 D Buffalo Nickel Key Date 1914 D Indian Head Nickle
$9.98
Time Remaining: 35m
Buy It Now for only: $17.98
Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list
Buffalo wooden nickel wood sense
Buffalo wooden nickel wood sense
$1.99
Time Remaining: 35m

Bid now | Add to watch list

1928 mercury silver dime partial date buffalo nickel cleaned wheat cent penny
1928 mercury silver dime partial date buffalo nickel cleaned wheat cent penny
$3.84
Time Remaining: 36m

Bid now | Add to watch list

ugly cull 1907 indian cent penny 1911 liberty v 1937 buffalo nickel 1947 wheat
ugly cull 1907 indian cent penny 1911 liberty v 1937 buffalo nickel 1947 wheat
$3.64
Time Remaining: 37m

Bid now | Add to watch list

Indian Head Nickel Resources

World Mint Coins | Coin Specifications, Resources and Coin Images