Most Valuable Buffalo Nickels, From Least to Most Expensive
The Buffalo nickel (sometimes called the Indian Head nickel) was produced from 1913 to 1921 and 1923 to 1938. A five-cent coin made of copper-nickel, it depicts the bust of a Native American profile on the front and an American bison (often called a buffalo) on the reverse.
The intricate design of this coin was its downfall. The features wore off quicker than most other types of coin. The date area was especially prone to wear, making it almost impossible to determine the date of many Buffalo nickels. It is estimated that millions of Buffalo nickels are “dateless,” increasing the value of those with legible dates.
However, the year alone does not determine a Buffalo nickel's relative value. Several circumstances factor in, including the quality of the coin, among others.
30. 1915 D Buffalo Nickel
This coin’s value is due to its rarity, particularly in uncirculated condition. About a third of nickels minted in 1915 were produced at the Denver mint. These are identified by a small D at the bottom of the reverse side of the coin.
* All values are sourced from USA Coin Bookand reflect the highest quality example of each coin; uncirculated coins tend to be in the best condition and are the most valuable.
29. 1913 D Line Type Buffalo Nickel
The Type 2 or Line Type Buffalo nickels produced in 1913 were an improvement over the Type 1, which featured the buffalo standing on a raised mound. In this second design, the buffalo is standing on a flat plane or “line.” This was done to provide a recessed area to inscribe “five cents” in the hopes it wouldn’t wear away as quickly.
28. 1914 S Buffalo Nickel
Less than 4 million nickels were produced in 1914, and as was typical, the fewest number were made in San Francisco (denoted by a small S on the bottom of the reverse side of the coin). The coin was redesigned in 1914 to address the coin’s tendency to wear down quickly. Since so few coins were produced, the coin is rare in any condition.
27. 1926 D Buffalo Nickel
The 1926 Buffalo nickels overall tend to be weakly struck, and those of high quality are hard to find. Even those in lower conditions are valuable. A 1926 D nickel in good condition sells for around $10 to $15.
26. 1914 D Buffalo Nickel
Unlike the previous year, 1914 saw only one design type. With fewer coins minted in 1914 than in 1913, the 1914 Buffalo in any condition, from any mint, is a scarce coin. Even though the Denver mint struck almost 500,000 more nickels than San Francisco, those from Denver fetch the highest prices.
25. 1928 S Buffalo Nickel
In sharp contrast to a decade earlier, about 37 million Buffalo nickels were produced in 1928. Almost 7 million of these were from San Francisco. Most of these are at the low end of the quality scale and worth just a few dollars. Well-struck coins, however, are rare and command these higher prices.
24. 1925 D Buffalo Nickel
This coin is especially hard to find in mint condition, making the difference in value between “good” and “mint” condition coins considerable. With approximately 45 million produced across all three mints, 1925 was among the higher-mintage years, but it was still below the 70 million-piece mark five years prior.
23. 1917 D Buffalo Nickel
More than 60 million Buffalo nickels were minted in 1917, but most have extensive wear. Well-struck versions of the 1917 D Buffalo Nickel are rare, but rarer still are those in uncirculated condition. Less than 10 million were produced in Denver, despite the fact that they saw heavy circulation in the west at this time. Quality examples of this coin are rare.
22. 1924 D Buffalo Nickel
While all three mints produced nickels in 1924 (the first time since 1920), the total minted was still only about 29 million. San Francisco struck about a fifth of that made in Denver, while Philadelphia produced roughly four times as much as Denver.
21. 1923 S Buffalo Nickel
After producing no nickels at all in 1922 due to a recession, the Mint struck more than 40 million in 1923. Roughly 6 million of these were from San Francisco, which was largely responsible for the western supply of nickels since none were produced in Denver.
20. 1915 S Buffalo Nickel
This coin is rare in any condition. Only 1,505,000 were produced, and there are less than 1,000 known specimens in “uncirculated” condition.
19. 1918 D Buffalo Nickel
This coin is among the rarest of the Buffalo series. This is largely attributed to the fact that the date has worn off many of these coins, making it difficult to identify the year. Just slightly more than a fifth of the 45 million produced in 1918 came from Denver.
18. 1913 S Line Type Buffalo Nickel
Only 3,314,000 1913 S Buffalo Nickels were produced in 1913, in two different types. The recessed area beneath the line (Type 2) was intended to prevent the words “five cents” from wearing. This design change happened mid-year. However, these coins were not struck as fully, and since fewer coins were produced in the second type, high-quality Line Type coins from 1913 are rare.
17. 1917 S Buffalo Nickel
The 1917 S had a production run of 4,193,000 (out of 65 million), the 10th lowest in Buffalo nickel history. As was typical, the San Francisco mint produced the fewest number of nickels, making these coins rare.
16. 1920 D Buffalo Nickel
Value: $ 1,593
The year 1920 saw high mintage numbers at all three mints, with almost 10 million each produced in both Denver and San Francisco. The 1920 Buffalo nickels were generally poorly struck, resulting in few quality samples. The position of the date on the coin resulted in it often being worn away, further reducing the number of quality coins.
15. 1919 D Buffalo Nickel
More than 70 million five-cent pieces were produced in 1919; roughly 8 million of these were from Denver. The 1919-D Buffalo Nickel is especially difficult to find in higher grades as most of them were in circulation and wore rather quickly.
14. 1920 S Buffalo Nickel
In 1920, the Buffalo nickel was produced in large quantities, but the design issues remained so that many wore down to the point the date was no longer legible. Less than 10 million out of 63 million were produced in San Francisco; very few have been found in mint condition.
13. 1919 S Buffalo Nickel
Less than 8 million of the 70 million nickels made in 1919 came from San Francisco. The 1919 S Buffalo Nickel is difficult to find in any condition, so lower grades can fetch as much as $20, and those in uncirculated condition are extremely rare.
12. 1925 S Buffalo Nickel
About 45 million Buffalo nickels were struck in 1925, considerably less than the annual production from 1916 to 1920. The lower-quality nickels of this year are not considered valuable, but one in mint condition is rare.
11. 1927 S Buffalo Nickel
Despite having the seventh lowest mint run, many nickels from 1927 survived. Like other years, those from the San Francisco mint are among the most valuable. An uncirculated coin is of particular value.
10. 1921 S Buffalo Nickel
In 1921, the U.S. Mint focused its resources on producing Morgan dollars and made fewer other coins. Only 1,557,000 nickels were produced in San Francisco and none in Denver, making the 1921 S Buffalo Nickel difficult to find.
9. 1918 S Buffalo Nickel
Like the previous coin, the 1918 S is also difficult to find. Less than 5 million were struck in San Francisco (about a ninth of the total minted nationwide). Even coins in “good” condition are worth around $20.
8. 1924 S Buffalo Nickel
Only 1,437,000 Buffalo nickels were minted in San Francisco in 1924, making them exceedingly rare. Lower-grade coins are worth $20 to $30, compared to about $1 for those made at the Philadelphia mint.
7. 1937 D 3 Legs Buffalo Nickel
Unlike the previous coins, this one’s value comes from it being a mistake. There was an error in production resulting in making the buffalo appear to be a creature with only three legs. The right foreleg is clearly missing.
6. 1935 Doubled Die Reverse Buffalo Nickel
Again, an error makes this coin rare enough to be valuable. This nickel has doubling on the reverse side of the coin. The letters spelling out “FIVE CENTS” are more pronounced than on the standard 1935 coin.
5. 1914 4 Over 3 Buffalo Nickel
The 4 Over 3 has been double stamped, with a four stamped over the three. This is a less obvious error than many other doubling examples but can be seen by looking closely at the date. It can be identified by a small block sticking out from the left side of the top of the four and a slightly rounded edge on the upper right side.
4. 1926 S Buffalo Nickel
This coin is the rarest of all Buffalo nickels. Minted in San Francisco, only 970,000 were produced. This was the only Buffalo nickel with a total mintage of less than a million.
3. 1936 D 3 and a Half Legs Buffalo Nickel
Like the 1937 3 Legs, this coin’s value comes from an error in production. In this case, the Buffalo has three solid legs; the image of the front leg is weak and seems to fade away, giving the impression the last leg is a stump.
2. 1918 D 8 Over 7 Buffalo Nickel
Minted in Denver, this is another example of a production error. The 1918 date was stamped over the 1917 date, producing a flat-topped 8 with straight lines.
Since it is extremely rare, this coin is worth over a thousand dollars, even in lesser conditions.
1. 1916 Doubled Die Obverse Buffalo Nickel
This coin was struck by the production die twice, causing the date to be doubled. Like the previous example, because of their rarity, these error coins are worth thousands of dollars no matter the condition.