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




1923 S Buffalo Nickel  MAKE US AN OFFER O2550
1923 S Buffalo Nickel MAKE US AN OFFER O2550
$38.00
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1926 P Buffalo Nickel Bold High Grade w Great Eye Appeal 6530
1926 P Buffalo Nickel Bold High Grade w Great Eye Appeal 6530
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1928 S Buffalo Nickel Nice Full Date w Nearly Full Horn FREE SHIPPING 7523
1928 S Buffalo Nickel Nice Full Date w Nearly Full Horn FREE SHIPPING 7523
$10.78
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VERY SCARCE BUFFALO NICKEL 1921 S ABOUT VERY FINE
VERY SCARCE BUFFALO NICKEL 1921 S ABOUT VERY FINE
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1920 D Buffalo Nickel Early Semi Key All Original Coin FREE SHIPPING 7488
1920 D Buffalo Nickel Early Semi Key All Original Coin FREE SHIPPING 7488
$8.08
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ELONGATED CENT PENNY + BUFFALO INDIAN NICKEL SALT LAKE MORMON TEMPLE k
ELONGATED CENT PENNY + BUFFALO INDIAN NICKEL SALT LAKE MORMON TEMPLE k
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SCARCE BUFFALO NICKEL 1929 S EXTREMELY FINE
SCARCE BUFFALO NICKEL 1929 S EXTREMELY FINE
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Coronado CCW Conceal Carry Leather Motorcycle Vest M Medium Buffalo Head Nickel
Coronado CCW Conceal Carry Leather Motorcycle Vest M Medium Buffalo Head Nickel
$125.00
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AUTHORITATIVE REFERENCE ON BUFFALO NICKELS
AUTHORITATIVE REFERENCE ON BUFFALO NICKELS
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1934 P Buffalo Nickel Bold  All Original Coin FREE SHIPPING 7544
1934 P Buffalo Nickel Bold All Original Coin FREE SHIPPING 7544
$8.08
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1913 S  D Type 2 1914 D 1915 S 1921 S Key Date Buffalo Nickels US 5 Cents 5C
1913 S D Type 2 1914 D 1915 S 1921 S Key Date Buffalo Nickels US 5 Cents 5C
$119.99
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1937 D Buffalo Nickel PCGS MS65 D D RPM 006 Scarce Variety Premium Quality D12
1937 D Buffalo Nickel PCGS MS65 D D RPM 006 Scarce Variety Premium Quality D12
$161.98
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Indian Head Nickel Resources

World Mint Coins | Coin Specifications, Resources and Coin Images