No Date Buffalo Nickels – Why Are Some Buffalo Nickels Dateless Anyway?

Old-coins-Charleston-WV-October-2009.jpg Buffalo nickels without dates (called dateless Buffalo nickels) may not be worth very much money, but they still are interesting to collectors and non-collectors alike.

It is important to know that no date Buffalo nickels once did possess a date.

The fact is, the U.S. Mint did not make any Buffalo nickels without dates.

So, why are some Buffalo nickels dateless and others are not?…


No Date Buffalo Nickels

The reason some Buffalo nickels have no dates is simply because the dates have been worn off after many years in circulation.

The dates on these Buffalo nickels wore off mainly due to the location of the date on the coin itself.

The date is located just on the bottom left on the Buffalo nickel — on the shoulder of the Indian. This means that the date sits high off the surface of the coin and is one of the first places that wear will take place on the Buffalo nickel.

It can take many years, sometimes decades, of normal wear and tear to rub a date off a Buffalo nickel. Millions of dateless Buffalo nickels exist.

For a coin which saw heavy use during the Great Depression, dateless Buffalo nickels would tell interesting stories if they could talk!


How Much Are Dateless Buffalo Nickels Worth?

Lost-and-found-Buffalo-nickel.jpgNot knowing what year a coin was made makes it harder for that coin to tell its story, so to speak. That’s why some people tend to throw away dateless Buffalo nickels as worthless.

But wait — those dateless Buffalo nickels are not worthless! While still cheap, they have risen somewhat in value over the past decade.

Dateless Buffalo nickels were obtainable for less than 20 cents years ago. They were often spent for face value by those who just wanted to get rid of them.

However, dateless Buffalo nickels have been going for as much as 50 cents and more in recent times. Coin dealers may be willing to pay you 10 to 20 cents for a dateless Buffalo nickel.


The Popularity Of Buffalo Nickels With No Date

While not valuable, dateless Buffalo nickels are liked for many reasons. First off, even a dateless Buffalo nickel is still highly valued by those who appreciate the romance behind the legendary American coin.

Indian head nickels and Buffalo nickels hearken to an earlier, golden time in American history. Many decades ago, those down on their luck would scrape new designs on the Buffalo nickel and pass off their artwork in exchange for meals, clothing, or a bed to lie on overnight. These artistic Buffalo nickels are referred to as Hobo Nickels.

Dateless Buffalo nickels often find homes within the workshops and studios of artisans and jewelers.

Dateless Buffalo nickels also make wonderful gifts for young collectors. Handling an old Buffalo nickel — even one without a date — can spark the interest in a child to a pursue a hobby that can last a lifetime.


Using Chemicals To Date Buffalo Nickels

Using chemicals on dateless Buffalo nickels to reveal the date has its pros and cons.

Most importantly, using acid (such as the product Nic-a-Date) to reveal the date on a Buffalo nickel can be physically hazardous to a careless user.

Numismatically speaking, applying any cleaner, acid, or chemical to a coin effectively damages it in the eyes of virtually any numismatist.

Applying acid to a dateless Buffalo nickel should be done only for the entertainment of seeing what date used to be on the coin. On occasion, however, using acid on a dateless Buffalo nickel can reveal a scarce — even rare — date.

In such a circumstance, using acid on a dateless Buffalo nickel can actually be beneficial and possibly can increase the value of a formerly dateless Buffalo nickel. Still though, in most cases, using acid on a Buffalo nickel — or any coin — poses a risk to your health and effectively ruins the coin in the eyes of coin collectors.

Think of any coin you apply acid to as a sacrifice.


Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

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'm a member of both the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG). 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, food, and living green.

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