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




1919 S Fine Buffalo Nickel 6
1919 S Fine Buffalo Nickel 6
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1927 BUFFALO NICKEL NGC MS65 FULL HORN WHITE BLAZER FREE SHIPPING
1927 BUFFALO NICKEL NGC MS65 FULL HORN WHITE BLAZER FREE SHIPPING
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Buffalo Nickel Dan Baird Audio CD
Buffalo Nickel Dan Baird Audio CD
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BOLD Sharp Date 1916 S BUFFALO NICKEL 5 Mintage 11 million FREE S
BOLD Sharp Date 1916 S BUFFALO NICKEL 5 Mintage 11 million FREE S
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RARE KEY Date 1926 S BUFFALO NICKEL Lowest Mintage 970000 FREE SH DT87MI
RARE KEY Date 1926 S BUFFALO NICKEL Lowest Mintage 970000 FREE SH DT87MI
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BOLD VF VERY DARK 1926 D BUFFALO NICKEL Low Mintage 56 million FREE S
BOLD VF VERY DARK 1926 D BUFFALO NICKEL Low Mintage 56 million FREE S
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BOLD KEY Date 1924 S BUFFALO NICKEL LOW Mintage 14 million FREE S
BOLD KEY Date 1924 S BUFFALO NICKEL LOW Mintage 14 million FREE S
$59.46
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ALL 12 NICE Coins 1934 1938 P D S BUFFALO NICKELS 5 Short Set Free S
ALL 12 NICE Coins 1934 1938 P D S BUFFALO NICKELS 5 Short Set Free S
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BOLD KEY Full Horn 1931 S BUFFALO NICKEL Low Mintage 12 million FREE S
BOLD KEY Full Horn 1931 S BUFFALO NICKEL Low Mintage 12 million FREE S
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1921 P Buffalo Nickel  MAKE US AN OFFER Y2020
1921 P Buffalo Nickel MAKE US AN OFFER Y2020
$28.00
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1921 P Buffalo Nickel  MAKE US AN OFFER Y2021
1921 P Buffalo Nickel MAKE US AN OFFER Y2021
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1916 D BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY DATE VERY NICE NICKEL FREE SHIPPING
1916 D BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY DATE VERY NICE NICKEL FREE SHIPPING
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Indian Head Nickel Resources

World Mint Coins | Coin Specifications, Resources and Coin Images