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.

Category: Buffalo Nickel