Blog Archives

1916 Nickel

January 23, 2009

The 1916 Buffalo Head is one that is highly sought after, IF it is a double die.  The double die is an error on the coin made during the minting process.  On the 1916 nickel this double die occurs on the date; it is extremely rare however.  Below is the values for the full series of the 1916 Indian Head (or Buffalo Nickel).  These reflect coins that are just in an average condition; coins found in a very fine condition will sell for 10 to 12 times more.

Values of the 1916 Nickel

  • 1916 Double Die – $1,200!
  • 1916 – $2.25 (63,497,466 Circulation strikes)
  • 1916 D – $7.50 (13,333,000 Circulation strikes)
  • 1916 S – $4.25 (11,860,000 Circulation strikes)

After the Buffalo Nickel

January 21, 2009

The nickel that was coined AFTER the buffalo nickel, was the President Thomas Jefferson nickel from 1938 to present.  From 1938 to 2003 Monticello was featured on the reverse.  However, one interesting aspect of the Jefferson nickel is that from 1942 to 1945 the actual metal makeup of the coin was 35% silver (these are also called “War Nickels”.)

War Nickels from this time period have become very collectible because the value of silver has gone up so much since that time.  In fact, right now a nickel from 1942 to 1945 have a metal value of nearly 63 cents!  That may not seem like much, but that over a 1200% increase in value over what its face is worth.  To see what the current value of these War Time nickels are worth, check out: Current Melt Value of Coins.

Some of these other coins that were also produced using silver was the Mercury dime from the years 1916 to 1945.  So, if you can find a dime from this era, you should be very happy indeed.  In addition, the quarter from 1932 to 1962 was made partially from silver; and therefore its intrinsic worth has skyrocketed to over $2!

The silver half dollar from 1916-1947 and the silver dollar from 1964 to 1970 have also become quite valuable.  However, times have changed now, and coins are no longer made from such valuable metals.

The great thing about many of these coins listed above, is that they are still in circulation!  You might be able to find some in your loose change or in your couch cushions.  You may have thought that you just had a quarter, but actually could have a piece worth $2 or more.

In fact, there is a very active community that buys, sells, and trades, many of these pieces online.  So, if you happen to run across any of these silver coins (even if they are not Indian Head Nickels), you will have no trouble selling it; if you choose to do so.  It could also become a valuable investment if you decide to hold onto it and watch the price of silver increase (hopefully!)

Found: A Buffalo Nickel!

January 16, 2009

Wouldn’t it be great if you got some change from your local store clerk and when you went to look at your change you noticed a Buffalo staring you back in the face?!  These coins are very rare to find in circulation, however, it is still possible to find a Buffalo Head Nickel in your change.

It is estimated that there are approximately 1 in 25,000 nickels in circulation are a buffalo head.  So, what is the likelhood that you will be able to scream: “Found!  Buffalo Nickel!”  Well, lets break it down.

According to Matthew Healy of the New York Times, there are approximately 20 billion nickels in circulation.  Now these are very rough estimates of course, but that would mean that there are approximately 800,000 Buffalo Nickels in circulation today!  If each of the 50 states has the same amount of nickels (not realistic but good for illustration purposes), that means that each state has approximately 16,000 buffalo head nickels in it.

So if you break it down further into cities and towns, you can see that there are a few out there, but not many.  If there are 500 major cities or towns in the US, that means that each of these cities or towns has approximately 32 total Indian Head Nickels (in active circulation) in them.

Or another way to look at it is simply by percentage.  What is your chances of getting a nickel from this time period in your change?  The answer is approximately 0.000125% chance.  Not good.  But who knows, if you keep your eyes open, you just might be able to find one!

Where to find a Buffalo Nickel?

January 16, 2009

If you are going to look for a Buffalo Nickel, where would you look?  There are many places that you might be able to find a buffalo nickel, and here are a few.

First, wouldn’t it be great if you could find one for free in circulation?  Although, this is quite a long shot, it IS possible.  The coins were minted from 1913 to 1938 and were still in use for quite some time after that.  In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 25,000 nickels in circulation today are in fact Indian head nickels.  There are a couple of places that you can start.

First, look at the change that you get from your local grocery store or convenience store, or anywhere else for that matter.  You might be surprised what you find.  While getting the buffalo nickel is unlikely, there are many other coins that are still valuable (such as silver quarters and dimes).

Second, you can do what is called coin-roll hunting.  Coin roll hunting is essentially going to your local bank and asking for several rolls (or an entire box) of nickels and searching through all of them one by one.  Once you have pulled out all the coins that you want, you take back the remaining coins and exchange it for new rolls of coins!  Many people do this and have been able to find valuable coins that have simply been looked over by other people.

Now, the most realistic way to get your hands on a buffalo nickel is to simply purchase one.  You can purchase a nickel online for only a few dollars.  However, if you are looking for a more rare variety or an uncirculated coin, you will have to pay a premium.  Overall, there is a very active market for these Indian Head coins, so you will have no problem finding one.

In fact, we have included some live listings from eBay below as a sample of what you might be able to find.

James Earle Fraser

January 16, 2009

James Earle Fraser was the sculptor of the Buffalo Head Nickel.  James was born in 1876 in Minnesota.  Two of his most famous works are the End of the Trail and the Buffalo Head Nickel.

In 1902 he set up his own art studio in New York city, where he performed some of his greatest works.  He was commissioned by the US government to create the five cent piece in 1913.

Recently, the original mold that was used on the initial run for this coin was recently on display in his hometown.  This original clay mold was brought back to Woodbridge.  The clay nickel was made out of terra cotta and was displayed at the town hall for all to see.

Fraser was alive when Buffalo truly were roaming the great plains.  When he was a child he was likely to have seen great herds of these in the mid-west.  However, by the time he was commissioned to create the coin in 1913, many of these great Bison were no longer in existed.  In fact, by that time they were in severe danger of extinction.

So, not only was this a masterful work of art, it also depicts the animal that represents America in its early days.  In addition, on the back side of the coin is the American Indian; which Fraser was also in close contact with during his life.

He truly was the one for the job, and has left us with a lastly piece of art and legacy that we should cherish.

Indian Head Nickel

January 15, 2009

The Indian Head Nickel is a very unique coin in the history of the United States.  For the first time, the US put into mint the image of a Native American.  It is said that the Indian Head Nickel (also known as the Buffalo Nickel) is a composite of three Native American Indians: Iron Tail, Two Moons, and John Big Tree.

So, although the image does not represent any one in particular, it does honor some of the great Native American Chiefs during early American history.  There has not been a nickel before or since that has featured a native American on its face. Except for the American Buffalo gold bullion coins which were commemorative coins released in 2001(Buffalo dollar) and 2006.

Other names given to the Indian Head Nickel are the Buffalo nickel (the most commonly used name) and sometimes the Hobo Nickel.  Although the Hobo Nickel name is only used when referring to coinage that has been re-sculpted by an artist to depict a different image completely.

Some of the most popular years of the Indian Nickel (or Nickel Head) are:

If you were to find one of these in circulation, it would be rare indeed.  They are all but extinct from common circulation as collectors and other are picking them out as soon as they are spotted.

However, if you would like to have your very own Indian Head Nickel, you can actually add one to your collection for a very reasonable price (depending on year, quality, etc.).  For your convenience, we have included some of the listings for Buffalo nickels selling on eBay right now.