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




1916 5C BUFFALO NICKEL PCGS MS66  950+++ GEMPop 203
1916 5C BUFFALO NICKEL PCGS MS66 950+++ GEMPop 203
$699.99
Time Remaining: 40m

Bid now | Add to watch list

1913 BUFFALO NICKEL FIVE CENT COIN THE FIRST YEAR Lot 1RR
1913 BUFFALO NICKEL FIVE CENT COIN THE FIRST YEAR Lot 1RR
$12.99
Time Remaining: 47m
Buy It Now for only: $12.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
COIN COLLECTOR LOT 6A SLAB BUFFALO WHEATKENNEDYV NICKLEKNIFEBASEBALL CARDS
COIN COLLECTOR LOT 6A SLAB BUFFALO WHEATKENNEDYV NICKLEKNIFEBASEBALL CARDS
$14.99
Time Remaining: 47m
Buy It Now for only: $14.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1937 S 5C Buffalo Nickel  992
1937 S 5C Buffalo Nickel 992
$6.50
Time Remaining: 48m
Buy It Now for only: $6.50
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1913 D Type 2 Buffalo Nickel NGC VG Details Indian Head 5c Coin
1913 D Type 2 Buffalo Nickel NGC VG Details Indian Head 5c Coin
$75.99
Time Remaining: 48m
Buy It Now for only: $75.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
WOW1913 D TYPE 2 BUFFALO NICKEL NICE VINTAGE US COIN VG BP90
WOW1913 D TYPE 2 BUFFALO NICKEL NICE VINTAGE US COIN VG BP90
$82.75
Time Remaining: 51m
Buy It Now for only: $82.75
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1936 Mint Error Buffalo Nickel 5C Uncentered Broadstrike PCGS AU50 Rare
1936 Mint Error Buffalo Nickel 5C Uncentered Broadstrike PCGS AU50 Rare
$395.00
Time Remaining: 52m

Bid now | Add to watch list

Buffalo Nickel 1936 Fine
Buffalo Nickel 1936 Fine
$5.75
Time Remaining: 52m
Buy It Now for only: $5.75
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1925 S Key Date Buffalo Nickel NGC VF20 Indian Head 5c Coin
1925 S Key Date Buffalo Nickel NGC VF20 Indian Head 5c Coin
$59.99
Time Remaining: 56m
Buy It Now for only: $59.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
BUFFALO NICKELS 1913 1938 WHITMAN COIN FOLDER 9008 UNUSED COLLECTION HOLDER
BUFFALO NICKELS 1913 1938 WHITMAN COIN FOLDER 9008 UNUSED COLLECTION HOLDER
$9.99
Time Remaining: 56m
Buy It Now for only: $9.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1921 5C Five Cents Buffalo Nickel VG Very Good
1921 5C Five Cents Buffalo Nickel VG Very Good
$7.95
Time Remaining: 57m
Buy It Now for only: $7.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1935 BUFFALO NICKEL NO RESERVE
1935 BUFFALO NICKEL NO RESERVE
$5.00
Time Remaining: 1h

Bid now | Add to watch list

Indian Head Nickel Resources

World Mint Coins | Coin Specifications, Resources and Coin Images