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Find Out if Your “Spare Change” is Worth Big Money: A Guide to Buffalo Nickel Values

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By Jay

The buffalo nickel is technically known as “the five-cent Indian head” coin. It’s also referred to as the bison nickel or Indian nickel due to the Indian on the front. Let’s take a look at some of the little-known facts about the buffalo nickels and how much they are worth.

The buffalo on the reverse of the coin was supposedly modeled after a bison named Black Diamond that resided in the New York Central Park Zoo.

Did You Know?

The buffalo head nickel was designed by James E. Fraser who used 3 different native Americans as models.

See how much your buffalo nickels are worth…

It’s one of the more eye appealing coins. Unfortunately, the date on the buffalo nickel was placed in a bad spot and was easily worn away when the coins hit circulation. That’s why almost everybody who owns circulated a buffalo nickel is going to have a coin with a date that is just barely legible. These aren’t worth much money to a collector. The ones that haven’t received so much wear on them are commonly worth $2.00-$5.00.

If you have quite a few buffalo nickels in any kind of decent shape, I’d recommend getting yourself a price book (such as the “Red Book”) because buffalo nickels jump around a bit in price from coin to coin.

The Value Of Buffalo Nickels

The buffalo head nickel was minted from 1913 to 1938. Here are the values of some of the more noteworthy buffalo nickels:

The first one on the list, the 3-legged buffalo, is one of the more sought after buffalo nickels. On the 3-legged buffalo coins, the stump and hoof remain of the front leg but the leg itself is missing. This was caused by a section of the coin die that had been completely polished off.
YearMintVarietyPrice Range
1936D3 1/2 legs$800.00-$5000.00
1935Doubled Die Reverse$40.00-$150.00
1918D8 over 7$1000.00-$5500.00
1916Doubled Die$2200.00-$11000.00
19144 over 3$350.00-$550.00
NOTE: Listed above are a few coins that have one date over another. These are known as “overdates”.