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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.

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.

What is your Buffalo Nickel Worth?

January 15, 2009

Buffalo Nickels have become very collectible coins.  They were in mint from the period of 1913 to 1938.  It was still common to find a buffalo nickel (misspelled buffalo nickle) in circulation commonly into the 1970s.  However, as they became more rare; more collectors wanted them, and hence it became even more difficult to find one of these nickels in circulation from that time on.

The value of your buffalo nickel (also know as the Indian Head Nickel) is dependent upon many factors such as the mint year, type, and of course the quality of the coin.  The mint engraving was changed a few times during those years and therefore some years are much more valuable than others.  For example in 1938, there was a mistake in the mintage made and the buffalo on the front of the coin actually only has three legs.

The best place to go to determine the book value of your coin is: PCGS Pricing Guide.

While this guide is a good starting value.  You can also look at what the actual sales price of some of these Nickels are.  One of the most active market places for buying and selling rare coins is eBay.  Below you will find a listing of current Buffalo Nickels for sale.

So, when trying to determine how valuable your nickel is, take a look at what people are actually paying for it.  Now you know what you might be able to get for it, should you decide to sell it.  Again remember that values vary greatly depending on condition, year, and other factors.  However, this will give you a good place to start when trying to determine what your buffalo nickel is worth.