Tyler Heldt's Blog

10 Jul 2022

history on the buffalo nickel

Coins | Tyler Heldt

The buffalo nickel or Indian head nickel was a unique coin minted between 1913 to 1938 it was the predecessor to the Jefferson nickel. The buffalo nickel was designed by James Earle Fraser as part of the United States government drive to beautify coinage. This was the coin after the well known v-nickel and the buffalo nickel was its successor. When the United States government commissioned Fraser to create the buffalo nickel and when they saw the final product they were impressed. The design was approved by the United states government in 1912 but was held up for months because the Hobbs manufacturing company (which made the slugs for the coins) did not like the design of the buffalo nickel. Eventually franklin McVeigh the treasury secretary at the time decided to bypass Hobbs manufacturing and start the production of the buffalo nickel in 1913. The first buffalo nickels were distributed in February 22 1913 when president Taft showed them off during a ceremony. The coins were officially circulated march 4 1913 and were well received by the United States public. The buffalo nickel was made in three mints the Philadelphia mint with no mint mark, the Denver mint with the D mintmark and san Francisco with the S mint mark. In 1913 The Numismatist gave the new buffalo nickel a lukewarm review and suggested that the Indian head should be reduced but other than that most of the reviews were positive and the coin was a good coin in the United states public's eyes. But there were some problems with the new coin. It was destroying the dies that made the coin. The dies were being used up 3 times faster than the V-nickel or liberty nickel. This was a big problem for the United States Mint because it was using more dies than the United states mint could make. Also the dies would wear the coins away fast and make some not so good looking coins. As this happened the United states mint made new dies that would not wear the coins down and would not break as much as the last dies would. In 1916 the word liberty was given more emphasis and moved slightly on the coin. But this affected the Denver and san Francisco mint dies and made their coins less quality and affected the output of coins in circulation. Tens of millions of buffalo nickels were minted between 1910 and 1921 but then a recession happened and buffalo nickels were not minted in 1922. This started the downfall of the buffalo nickel and the United States mint was looking for replacements and was eventually replaced by the Jefferson nickel.

Sources Wikipedia and the official red book on buffalo nickels



Level 5

Wonderful tribute coins.

AC Coin$🌎

Level 6

Your essay on buffalo nickels is fine. Photo evidence wiuld have been nice. Buffalo nickels are one of my many US favorite old coins. Thanks.


Level 7

Long strider brings up a good point. Try not to use Wikipedia. There are mistakes and we have seen them. Thanks for the blog. Frasier used three Indians for the obverse and the Buffalo name is Black Diamond. He lived in the Central Park Zoo in N.Y. not the Bronx Zoo. I enjoyed it very much. Keep up the good work. And thanks for sharing this information. !

Kevin Leab

Level 4

My favorite design besides the SLQ. I am close to finishing my set...I think I have 15 more to go. It's an easy set to complete in my opinion


Level 4

Always enjoy Buffalo nickels, and like Kepi, I don’t have too many more missing from my Whitman folder. The coins were troublesome for the mint, and subsequently replaced right at their 25 year minimum requirement date. Nice history of these collectors pieces.


Level 6

Nice blog! Buffalo Nickels are a favorite if mine! Only 4 more holes to fill in my Dansco album! ; )


Level 6

Nicely done. A bibliography as well!! A lot of good info. Try not to use Wikipedia as a source. Anyone can write anything on it. Otherwise excellent job. Sorry to keep raging on you but you write very well and I am just making suggestions. Thanks.

We use cookies to provide users the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your cookie settings, we'll assume that you agree to receive all cookies on money.org. You may disable cookies at any time using your internet browser configuration. By continuing to use this website, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use. To learn more about how we use cookies and to review our privacy policy, click here.