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




RARE 1935 Hand Engraved HOBO NICKEL Buffalo Highly collectible 265
RARE 1935 Hand Engraved HOBO NICKEL Buffalo Highly collectible 265
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Original 1919 S Buffalo Nickel VG WE COMBINE ON SHIPPING
Original 1919 S Buffalo Nickel VG WE COMBINE ON SHIPPING
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1931 S Buffalo Nickel Ch XF
1931 S Buffalo Nickel Ch XF
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Rare Original Vintage 1937 Hobo Buffalo Nickel
Rare Original Vintage 1937 Hobo Buffalo Nickel
$999.99
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1920 S BUFFALO 5C NICKEL 90648  NICE COIN  US MINT RARE KEY DATE ESTATE
1920 S BUFFALO 5C NICKEL 90648 NICE COIN US MINT RARE KEY DATE ESTATE
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1921 P Buffalo Indian Nickel Exact Coin Pictured Flat Rate Shipping OCE0 762
1921 P Buffalo Indian Nickel Exact Coin Pictured Flat Rate Shipping OCE0 762
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new old stock The Complete Guide to BUFFALO NICKELS BY David Lange
new old stock The Complete Guide to BUFFALO NICKELS BY David Lange
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1934D BUFFALO NICKEL VERY GOOD
1934D BUFFALO NICKEL VERY GOOD
$3.00
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1934 D 5c Buffalo Nickel PCGS MS 63
1934 D 5c Buffalo Nickel PCGS MS 63
$76.23 (11 Bids)
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High Grade 1916 No F Buffalo Nickel FS 401 WE COMBINE ON SHIPPING
High Grade 1916 No F Buffalo Nickel FS 401 WE COMBINE ON SHIPPING
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Antique American 1913 1938 Buffalo Nickel on a 24 925 Sterling Silver Chain
Antique American 1913 1938 Buffalo Nickel on a 24 925 Sterling Silver Chain
$18.68
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1938 D D FS 502 RPM 2 ANACS MS 64 BUFFALO NICKEL GREAT CHIEF
1938 D D FS 502 RPM 2 ANACS MS 64 BUFFALO NICKEL GREAT CHIEF
$79.50
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Indian Head Nickel Resources

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