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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.

Hobo Nickel

January 15, 2009

The hobo nickel is generally speaking an altercation of an original small denomination coinage (often the nickel); often considered a work of art.  The nickel is often chosen by sculptors because of it thickness, softness, and size; making it easier than other coins to re-sculpt (although the term can refer to any coin that has been re-sculpted).  The reason these altercations are often referred to as “Hobo” coins is because originally it was only these smaller denominations and portability; hence the connection to “hobos”.

It is difficult to determine when people started altering coins for their own use; however, many coins can be traced back to at least the 1850’s.  However, when the Buffalo Nickel was released in 1913 it became very popular among coin engravers and other amateurs to alter the look of these coins.  These coins were probably popular to re-sculpt because  the design made it easier to re sculpt.

Many well known coin engravers worked on carving Hobo Nickels from the 1920s all the way until the 1970s.  Since the Buffalo Nickel was phased out in 1938; many hobo nickel carvers stopped working on the Buffalo Nickel after that time, and adopted the new design of the nickel.

Although, most of the classic Hobo nickel carvers are gone now; their work remains.  As well, there are many modern hobo nickel carvers that do great work on new coinage.  These coins are all extremely collectible, and many are considered great works of art.

Learn more at: The Hobo Nickel Society