All About Buffalo Nickels & Their Current Value

old-buffalo-nickel-by-cptcapacitor.jpg The Buffalo nickel — the design of the United States’ 5-cent coin from 1913 to 193 — remains one of the most popular and well-loved coins.

This, despite the fact that it has been nearly a century since Buffalo nickels first appeared in the pockets and purses of Americans.

Here’s everything you want to know about Buffalo nickels and what they’re worth today.

 

Design Of The Buffalo Nickel

James E. Fraser designed the Buffalo nickel based from real-life models.

The American Bison (which people commonly refer to as a buffalo) is believed to have been Fraser’s take on “Black Diamond,” an American Bison which was featured at the New York Zoological Gardens.

The Native American bust is the beautiful, artistic result when Fraser combined the features of three American Indian chiefs: Iron Tail, Two Moons, and John Big Tree.

Can Buffalo Nickels Still Be Found In Change?

The answer is yes, but this is an extremely difficult undertaking which often yields the searcher nothing but a bunch of Jefferson nickels (though Jefferson nickels are also exciting to collect).

Buffalo nickels have long been a favorite design among Americans, for these coins reflect a rich and often romantic part of our nation’s past.

Since the last Buffalo nickel was produced in 1938, these coins have been disappearing into collections, hoards, jars, and drawers. Very few remain in circulation today, and those which do turn up are often in badly worn condition.

In fact, due to the location of the coin’s date — positioned on a very “high” part of the coin — it is not at all out of the realm of possibility to find well-worn Buffalo nickels bearing no date whatsoever! These Buffalo nickels are generally worth no more than 10-25 cents but, if found in circulation, they still make quite a trophy nonetheless.

 

Types Of Buffalo Nickels

While the bulk of the Buffalo nickel series contains date and mint mark combinations which are highly common, there are a few particular dates which have become quite scarce over the years.

Most of the “really expensive” Buffalo nickels are either errors or “overdates” — an issue which occurs when mint engravers inscribe a digit of a date over another digit in a date.

Before delving into the various rare Buffalo nickels, it is important to realize there are two distinct varieties of Buffalo nickels:

type-i-buffalo-nickel.jpg Type I Buffalo nickels include the words “five cents” superimposed on the mound upon which the Bison stands on the reverse of the coin. Type I nickels were struck only during the first year of production: 1913.

type-ii-buffalo-nickel.jpgType II Buffalo nickels display “Five Cents” in a recessed area below the mound on the reverse. Type II nickels were produced from 1913 right up through to the end of the series.

Mint marks, which designate the U.S. Mint that struck a coin, can be found on the Buffalo nickel just under the words “five cents” on the bottom of the reverse side of the coin.

buffalo-nickel-s-mint-mark.jpg  buffalo-nickel-d-mint-mark.jpg

 

Rare Buffalo  Nickels

  • The 1913-S Type I Buffalo nickel is a scarce issue which retails for around $50 in Good condition. (For a Buffalo nickel to grade at least “Good,” its date and lettering must all be visible.)
  • The 1913-D Type II can bring in $125 in Good condition.
  • The 1913-S Type II is even pricier, at $350 in Good condition.
  • The 1914/3 (where the digit 4 is superimposed over the 3) is valued at $390 in Good condition, and the 1914-D issue can command $90.
  • The 1916 Doubled-Die Obverse can bring in at least $3,500 in Good condition. Doubled-die coins occur when the “die,” which imprints a coin’s design, strikes a coin twice thus imparting a “doubled” image on a coin. The degree of doubling can range from barely perceptible to highly evident.
  • The 1918/7-D overdate is worth $1,300 and up in Good or better condition.
  • The 1921-S which is worth about $70 and up in Good or better grades.
  • The 1935 Doubled-Die Reverse is worth around $40 and up in grades of Good or higher.

 

Buffalo Nickel Error Coins

There are 2 more Buffalo nickels which can cause attention:

  • The 1936-D 3-1/2 legs Buffalo nickel (part of the Bison’s front leg is missing)
  • The 1937-D 3 legs  Buffalo nickel (one of the rear legs is missing completely)

What are these errors worth?

At least $500 and $575, respectively, in Good condition. Prices increase if the coins are in higher grades (less wear).

To find more Buffalo nickel prices, check out the Professional Coin Grading Service price chart.

 

What About The Values Of Other Buffalo Nickels?

The short answer is that most Buffalo nickels not listed above are worth between $1.50 and $10 in the lower, circulated grades, depending on date and mint mark.

You should consider checking out the latest edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman and Ken Bressett for more insight on values, grading, and other information, including mintages.

To find out more about Buffalo nickels on the web, check out this very informative website dedicated to the Buffalo nickel, or this more concise article on the Buffalo nickel.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, and living green with others.

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  • Ida

    I Have a question I have a Indian head nicke there is no date on it any idea how I can find out the date and what ir is worth if anything.

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Ida –

      Because of the way Buffalo nickels were designed, the date is one of the first things to begin wearing off. Millions upon millions of these coins now have no date. In fact, these are actually called “dateless” Buffalo nickels.

      Anyhow, there are acid-based products designed for deciphering the date. The only problem is that — unless you’re holding onto a rare date — it won’t make the value of your coin go up. A typical dateless Buffalo nickel is worth around 25 cents.

      The product is called “Nic-a-Date,” and coin dealers sell this both in stores and online. Here’s a link to the product if you’re interested in finding out more about it or want to buy some for yourself: http://www.wizardcoinsupply.com/product/nic-a-date.html

  • Rob

    I have several buffalo nickles 1916 – 1936. None have a mint mark so I surmise they were from Philly,…but on the obverse side each has an ‘f’ stamp under the date,..cant find any reference to this anywhere,…

    • Anonymous

      Hi Rob,

      The ‘F’ is the designer’s initial: James Fraser designed the Buffalo nickel.

  • RED 81@hotmail.com

    i have buffalo nickel 1924
    like to now how menny it is worth

    • Anonymous

      Red,

      Your 1924 Buffalo nickel is worth about $2 to $3 in typical circulated grades.

  • Lunaliza

    Joshua your coin knowledge is very good and explanatory and i have a question for you i have a ten cent coin from 1899 do you have an idea of its value and another question is I have 3 5 cents coins of the buffalo but only 2 have the date on them do they have any value one is from 1921- 1912

    • Anonymous

      Hello, Lunaliza –

      I very much appreciate your comments; I’m very happy to share whatever I know!

      An 1899 dime’s value is around $3 to $5 if the coin is well worn, as is typical for coins of that age.

      Any Buffalo nickel without a date won’t be worth much more than 25 to 50 cents each; a 1921 Buffalo nickel is worth anywhere from $3 to $10 in the light-to-moderate circulated grades to over $100 if it has an ‘S’ mintmark (under the words FIVE CENTS under the buffalo).

      A 1912 nickel has a design of Miss Liberty on the front and a Roman numeral ‘V’ inside a wreath on the back. Are you sure the date is ’1912′? There are no 1922 or 1932 nickels… 1942 nickels have Jefferson on them.

  • Skybro123

    Hi i have a buffalo coin five cents 1916 with a reversed side in good condition . I just want too know the value?

    Bjorn from sweden

  • patricia

    l have a buffalo nickle that has no date on it.or under the buffalo with no five cents.lm just wondering how much it would be.patricia

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your question, Patricia –

      A dateless Buffalo nickel is worth about 25 cents. The reason the date is no longer there is that it is positioned in a very high place on the coin and, therefore, was among the first regions of the coin to get worn off first!

  • Vodry1961

    I recently came across a 1961 buffalo head nickle…it has the letter f on it and the bison is standing on a line not a mound…can any one tell me what kind of nickle it is?

    sillygracie@charter.net

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Vodry –

      Since there were no 1961 Buffalo nickels (The Jefferson design had been in use for over 20 years by then…), you likely have either a 1921 or 1931-S nickel… those are the most likely dates for which the third digit may be confused with a ’6.’

      The only other possibility is that you have some type of novelty coin — perhaps a real (but dateless) Buffalo nickel that was counterstamped by a private company with the date ’1961.’

  • Momash3000

    i have a1920 buffalo nickel. it is in kind of good condition. is it worth anything?

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Momash –

      Yes, a 1920 Buffalo nickel that is well worn (but still has a full-date showing, as is the case with yours) is worth at least $2 to $3.

  • Mluedtke79

    I would like to know about the buffalo head nickle that isnt dated. I have about a hundred of them and I was wondering if they are worth any thing

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Ml –

      Undated Buffalo nickels are simply regular coins that have suffered a ton of wear. Buffalo nickels were, unfortunately, designed with a date located in a very “high” spot — meaning that it was one of the first areas to receive wear.

      Dateless Buffalo nickels are worth around 25 cents each, though if I had any I would definitely inspect the bison on the reverse for any signs of the 3-legged or 3-1/2-legged error, which would bring some significant value to the coin (even without the date, such a piece would likely bring in 3 figures).

  • Dalia

    I have a Buffalo nickel with the date 1928 on it. It is in good condition but the only problem is is that there isn’t a number on below where FIVE CENTS is shown. Does that mean anything? How much is it worth?

    • Anonymous

      Dalia –

      No number… Do you mean a mintmark? Like a ‘D’ or ‘S’? If there isn’t one on your coin, that means it was made in Philadelphia.

      A 1928 Philadellphia Buffalo nickel in typical circulated grades is worth about $1 to $2.

  • Deathwolf

    i have a buffalo coin with no date and is sadly dirty, is there any way to clean it and if so, how much might it be worth?

    • Anonymous

      Deathwolf,

      There is a product called Nic-a-Date that is used to bring back the date on Buffalo nickels. However, that will damage the coin. The only advantages to revealing the date is satisfying curiosity and, if it turns out to be a scarce date/mintmark combination, it could mean the coin is worth significantly more than the 25 cents it’s worth now dateless.

  • Yayaleaks

    I have a buffalo nickel, it is dated 1936 and is in great condition how much is it worth?

    • Anonymous

      Yaya,

      Your 1936 Buffalo nickel is worth $1 to $2.

  • Lherring14

    I just found a 36 D bufallo nickel. You can clearly see the 36 but 19 is not visible. I knew nothing about them until now. How much is it worth?

    • Anonymous

      Because the half the date is worn away, L, your 1936-D Buffalo nickel is worth around 50 cents to $1.

  • Steve Holt

    I have a 1916 Buffalo nickel that is significantly thinner than a regular Buffalo Nickel. Both the obverse and reverse are very grainy and a darker gray color. But the date itself can be seen easily. Any idea what this coin is worth?

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Steve –

      Given your description, it sounds like your piece may have been attacked by acid. This is, unfortunately, a somewhat common fate for coins either due to experimentation or exposure to very strong fumes or elements. Such pieces really have no collector value unless they’re extremely rare (and 1916 Buffalo nickels aren’t particularly rare).

  • melissa

    i have a  buffalo nickel but you cant see the date and i hate that cause i know its not worth much with out it but i still like it any ways  i also have a 1944 mercury dime and a 1942 liberty dime and a 1900 v nickel

    • Anonymous

      Melissa,

      Coin collecting doesn’t have to be about what a coin’s monetary value is. Most the fun comes from looking for, owning, and learning about all kinds of coins. That worn Buffalo nickel of yours…. just imagine all the hands that coin has seen, all the things it bought, and the stories it could tell if it could talk!

      Your 1942 and 1944 Mercury dime as well as your 1900 Liberty nickel are each worth $2 to $3.

  • Cmac

    i have a 1928 indian head nickel all the writing is visable whats it worth

    • Anonymous

      Cmac,

      Such a piece is worth around $2 to $5 in typical grades, so long as all the writing and the date is visible.

  • Jamieakalucky

    i have a 1913 s type II buffalo nickel in perfect condition how much is it worth?

    • Anonymous

      Jamie,

      I’m not exactly sure on your definition of “perfect” condition; are there any parts of the design, date, or lettering missing? Is the coin discolored? If you’d like, feel free to post a photo of your 1913-S Type II Buffalo nickel here in the comments forum and we’d be glad to give you roundabout estimate on what it may be worth, assuming it’s genuine.

  • Weedhopper

    I have 3 of these coins.  Not sure which they are. I collect coins if I found them or the cashier gave them to m me, or because of an event.  I found out today a paper bill that I thought was a silly joke is actually worth $400!!  SOLD! 

  • TheDude

    I have a nickel that looks exactly like the first image above, it’s a discolored and the dates not so visible. How much would it be worth? 

  • jomar

    i have a 1936 buffalo 5 cents. it has a missing leg. how much it worths?

    • Anonymous

      Jomar,

      A 1936 3-1/2 leg Buffalo nickel is worth $500 to $1,000 in even well worn grades.

      • Jomar

        do you know anyone who buys it?

  • Rosanne Cooper

    I have 2 double sided nickles..back side no dates…what are they worth…very good condition

  • Gnskev

    Hey Joshua I have a 1936 buffalo 3 1/2 legs and a 1937 same how much are they worth.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Gnskev,

      A 1936 3-1/2 legged Buffalo nickel is a rare variety and worth upwards of $450 to $500, and the 1937 3-legged nickel is worth $500 and up.

  • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

    Cab,

    A 1916 Buffalo nickel with doubling in the areas you mentioned is worth around $4,000 and up. If it has not been authenticated, I’d recommend sending it in for certification by a major coin grading company. Here’s some more info on that: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/01/slabbed_coins.php

  • lidia

    i have a non marked 5 cent do u know how much its worth

  • Ewalls2

    I have collected 41 buffalo nickels just because I love the way they look been for 30years holding on to Theese they r not mint r they still worth anything or worth my time showing someone to me they r worth the world but Iam just wondering because I don’t see them anymore

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Ewalls,

      It’s really hard to say without knowing the dates of the Buffalo nickels what they are worth, but it’s safe to say each is worth at least 50 cents to $1.

  • justin

    I have a 1914-D Buffalo Nickel that has been acid dated.  I have been reading about acid dating but have not found anywhere that really discusses how it can effect the value of buffalo nickels.  As you state in your article, it can command $90 in good condition, but in your opinion, how much would acid dating degrade its value?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Justin,

      Great question. As you keenly know, acid dating does reduce the value of such a coin. Largely, the answer depends on how badly the coin’s overall appearance has been affected, but it’s safe to suggest that the value is generally about the same as if the coin had been harshly cleaned; which is about half (more or less) of it’s value if the coin was unscathed. Of course, this is a sight-unseen estimate.

    • coin kid age 11

      BAD mos take could of cost you thousends on a cirten coin

  • Michelle

    I have a bunch of 1936 D and a few 1937 but they all have all 4 legs lol

  • Capt Jack

    I have a buffalo nickel which looks like it was made in 2005. Is that possible? And it has a half profile on the back. Jefferson?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Capt. Jack,

      Yes, the 2005 Buffalo nickel is a special design honoring the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. If worn, it’s worth face value.

  • john

    i have what appears to be a 1916 buffalo nickel with no mint mark. the odd thing is it appears to have a 3/4 circle around the front shoulder of the buffalo and a full circle around the Indians ear. I cannot find any pictures that look anything like it. what do you think?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, John -

      From the description, it sounds like the circles are actually from machine damage, perhaps even a coin counter. Such markings are damage and are unfortunately detrimental to the value of your coin. It is probably worth a couple to a few dollars based on the amount of wear present.

    • coin kid age 11

      Its a rare coin if my rechearch is correct BUT I AM NOT SHURE

  • Emilee

    i have a 1913 buffalo nickel it doesnt have a mint mark and im thinking its a type 1. I dont know very much haha so i was wondering how much it could be worth? Its in very good condition i found it in a house i bought and its in a case that has a certificate and 4 tribal stamps it has james a helzers signature ?

  • wartex

    I have a 1914 d buffalo with a unusual error… I guess its a one of a kind… just wondering if it adds value or take away value from this coin??

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Wartex -

      How would you describe the error? Is it doubling of the date? Part of the design missing?

  • sara

    Hi Joshua, i have a buffalo nickle with no date but instead it has RCC where the date should be and a number 9 on the butt of the buffalo, do you have any idea what it means? or if it’s worth anything? Thank you, my name is sara

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Sara -

      Since the dates wore off Buffalo nickels very easily, it’s not surprising that some creative individual decided to carve his or her own initials in there, though the meaning behind number “9″ could be anybody’s guess. As a mutilated piece, such a coin really has little to no monetary value to most coin collectors.

  • regil

    hi there Joshua..i have a buffalo nickel here and i cant find which type of buffalo nickel is it. i cant find the mint mark under the five cents name…but its so strange to find a mint mark on the top of the buffalo..and it has an E mark. moreover, the date is not so clear 1913 or 1917? does it have worth?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hmm… the “E” may be the “F.: Is it under the date? If so, that’s the initial of the coin’s designer, James Earle Fraser. A 1913 or 1917 would both have worth, but without knowing the date or seeing a picture of it here in the forums, it is hard to say exact value. Any Buffalo nickle from that era, as long as even part of the date is showing has a value of at least a couple dollars.

  • daniel

    what if i cant find a date on mine

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.cason Jason Cason

    I have a 1937 3 legged nickel with no right rear leg, no tail, no ear on a raised mound with the D under the Five Cents designer James E Fraiser F under 1937. With E and digits I can not make out on top of the Buffalo’s back but not touching . I would like to know the value

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Jason -

      From the description it sounds like you may have a really worn 1937 Buffalo nickel without any errors. The famous 1937 3-legged Buffalo nickel has a D mint mark under the mound, and on that coin iris the

  • myles

    I just found a 1930 Buffalo Nickel now every letter every number is visible there are no errors except the buffalo on its back has the Roman Numeral 5 which looks like a V is imprinted on its back have you heard of this before

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Myles-

      It sounds like somebody etched the V on the back of your Buffalo nickel, probably an attempt to echo the appearance of the V (Liberty) nickel designed that preceded the a buffalo nickel. Your coin would still have a nominal value of about 50 cents to $1.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Myles -

      It sounds like somebody stamped or etched the coin with the “V” to recall the appearance of the Liberty nickel (has a large roman numeral “V” to represent five cents), which preceded the Buffalo nickel. Your coin is considered altered and is worth nominally more than face value.

  • Linda Jarvis

    my son Daniel is 11 and has been collecting coins about a year now. he has a 1936 buffalo nickel and we noticed a line going thru the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA almost exactly at the center of the letters=right at the opening in the center of the letter A. then we noticed that the line goes all the way around the coin, like it slipped when it was struck and made a ridge in the coin. any ideas? thanks linda and daniel

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, Linda and Daniel -

      Without seeing a photo of the coin, I suspect you may have found a Buffalo nickel with a die crack – basically a crack in the die (the device that imprints an image on coins) that was transposed as a ridge onto your coin. Please feel free to post an image of your coin here and I can take a further look.

      Here is some more info on die cracks: http://coins.about.com/od/coinsglossary/g/diecrackdefined.htm

      P.S. It is wonderful that you and your son are enjoying coin collecting together! If you have any further questions, just ask!

      Happy collecting!