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




1928 S Buffalo Nickel  MAKE US AN OFFER Y5767
1928 S Buffalo Nickel MAKE US AN OFFER Y5767
$91.00
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10 1 GRAM 0999+ PURE SILVER ROUND DESIGN OF THE BUFFALO NICKEL AKA INDIAN c
10 1 GRAM 0999+ PURE SILVER ROUND DESIGN OF THE BUFFALO NICKEL AKA INDIAN c
$22.95
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1919 S 5C Buffalo Nickel PCGS VF 30 167825
1919 S 5C Buffalo Nickel PCGS VF 30 167825
$138.00
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1925 US P Mark Buffalo Nickel Grades as Very Good
1925 US P Mark Buffalo Nickel Grades as Very Good
$4.68
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Buffalo Nickel 1913 D Type 1 GEM BU MS PQ Lot  9002 001
Buffalo Nickel 1913 D Type 1 GEM BU MS PQ Lot 9002 001
$184.95
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1935 P Buffalo Nickel Superb High Grade Stunner Lovely Coin FREE SHIPPING 7444
1935 P Buffalo Nickel Superb High Grade Stunner Lovely Coin FREE SHIPPING 7444
$15.98
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1913 D 5C Buffalo Nickel Type 2 PCGS F 12 165928
1913 D 5C Buffalo Nickel Type 2 PCGS F 12 165928
$187.00
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Indian Buffalo  Liberty Nickel W 50+ Arrowheads Spearheads Texas Estate 5 10
Indian Buffalo Liberty Nickel W 50+ Arrowheads Spearheads Texas Estate 5 10
$16.49
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Indian Buffalo  Liberty Nickel W 50+ Arrowheads Spearheads Texas Estate 1 14
Indian Buffalo Liberty Nickel W 50+ Arrowheads Spearheads Texas Estate 1 14
$16.49
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Indian Buffalo  Liberty Nickel W 50+ Arrowheads Spearheads Texas Estate 1 13
Indian Buffalo Liberty Nickel W 50+ Arrowheads Spearheads Texas Estate 1 13
$16.49
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1914 D 5C Buffalo Nickel PCGS VF 25 165473
1914 D 5C Buffalo Nickel PCGS VF 25 165473
$248.00
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1913 D BUFFALO NICKEL TYPE II KEY DATE NICE CIRCULATED NICKEL FREE SHIP
1913 D BUFFALO NICKEL TYPE II KEY DATE NICE CIRCULATED NICKEL FREE SHIP
$139.99
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Indian Head Nickel Resources

World Mint Coins | Coin Specifications, Resources and Coin Images