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




1914 P D S Buffalos Clear Restored Dates Horn just shows
1914 P D S Buffalos Clear Restored Dates Horn just shows
$15.00
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1916 S BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY  VERY GOOD  Z9537
1916 S BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY VERY GOOD Z9537
$9.50 (4 Bids)
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1921 S Buffalo nickel in fine 1019Q
1921 S Buffalo nickel in fine 1019Q
$135.00
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1913 TY 1 Buffalo nickel coin five cents 311m
1913 TY 1 Buffalo nickel coin five cents 311m
$14.99
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1919 S BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY  BETTER DATE  Z9538
1919 S BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY BETTER DATE Z9538
$10.50 (4 Bids)
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1914 P Buffalo Nickel  MAKE US AN OFFER B1392
1914 P Buffalo Nickel MAKE US AN OFFER B1392
$27.00
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1926 s Buffalo Nickel G+  Semi Key
1926 s Buffalo Nickel G+ Semi Key
$27.95
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1920 D BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY  BETTER DATE  Z9539
1920 D BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY BETTER DATE Z9539
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1921 BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY  FINE+ VERY FINE  Z9540
1921 BUFFALO NICKEL SEMI KEY FINE+ VERY FINE Z9540
$4.99 (1 Bid)
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1913 D Type 2 Buffalo Nickel NGC AU Details Scarce Date
1913 D Type 2 Buffalo Nickel NGC AU Details Scarce Date
$189.00
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1918 D Buffalo Nickel NGC VF20 Nice Better Date Coin
1918 D Buffalo Nickel NGC VF20 Nice Better Date Coin
$85.05
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1913 TYPE 1 BUFFALO NICKEL MS60 ANACS SCRATCHED
1913 TYPE 1 BUFFALO NICKEL MS60 ANACS SCRATCHED
$23.87
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Indian Head Nickel Resources

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