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 S Buffalo Nickel Rare Date Nice Gem Circulated Sharp Horn Make A Offer
1916 S Buffalo Nickel Rare Date Nice Gem Circulated Sharp Horn Make A Offer
$35.95
Time Remaining: 31m
Buy It Now for only: $35.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1930 P Buffalo Nickel Nice Gem Circulated Molten Lead Color Make An Offer
1930 P Buffalo Nickel Nice Gem Circulated Molten Lead Color Make An Offer
$12.95
Time Remaining: 31m
Buy It Now for only: $12.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1927 S Buffalo Nickel Gem Circulated Sharper Details Rare Date Make A Offer
1927 S Buffalo Nickel Gem Circulated Sharper Details Rare Date Make A Offer
$39.95
Time Remaining: 31m
Buy It Now for only: $39.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1923 P Buffalo Nickel  MAKE US AN OFFER Y4050
1923 P Buffalo Nickel MAKE US AN OFFER Y4050
$17.00
Time Remaining: 32m
Buy It Now for only: $17.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1924 D Buffalo Nickel Denver Mint Bison 5c Coin
1924 D Buffalo Nickel Denver Mint Bison 5c Coin
$34.99
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $34.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
American Historical Society Buffalo Head Nickel Pocket Knife 1936
American Historical Society Buffalo Head Nickel Pocket Knife 1936
$15.75
Time Remaining: 35m
Buy It Now for only: $15.75
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
1917 S BUFFALO NICKEL MJJ
1917 S BUFFALO NICKEL MJJ
$2.99
Time Remaining: 35m

Bid now | Add to watch list

1913 D TYPE II VF KEY DATE BUFFALO NICKEL E5y
1913 D TYPE II VF KEY DATE BUFFALO NICKEL E5y
$175.00
Time Remaining: 35m

Bid now | Add to watch list

1917 S Buffalo Nickel San Francisco Mint Bison 5 Cent Coin
1917 S Buffalo Nickel San Francisco Mint Bison 5 Cent Coin
$59.99
Time Remaining: 39m
Buy It Now for only: $59.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
NEAT LASER CUT GOLD PLATED BUFFALO INDIAN HEAD NICKEL PENDANT
NEAT LASER CUT GOLD PLATED BUFFALO INDIAN HEAD NICKEL PENDANT
$19.99
Time Remaining: 39m
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
40 Mixed Buffalo Nickel Roll MIXED DATES+MINTS + BONUS BR033
40 Mixed Buffalo Nickel Roll MIXED DATES+MINTS + BONUS BR033
$15.98
Time Remaining: 43m

Bid now | Add to watch list

1913 TY 1 BUFFALO NICKEL NICE CIRCULATED FULL HORN  FREE SHIPPING
1913 TY 1 BUFFALO NICKEL NICE CIRCULATED FULL HORN FREE SHIPPING
$24.43
Time Remaining: 43m
Buy It Now for only: $24.43
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Indian Head Nickel Resources

World Mint Coins | Coin Specifications, Resources and Coin Images