It was a difficult time for Charles Barber, Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint. Although Teddy Roosevelt was no longer in office, his desire to have more classical designs on our coins, as expressed to Augustus Saint-Gaudens over dinner in 1905, was very much alive. Barber's uninspired Liberty Head nickel had been in production since 1883. Under the Coinage Act of 1890, it was time for a change, and Secretary of the Treasury Franklin MacVeagh, originally a Roosevelt appointee, wasn't about to pass up the opportunity. Reminded by his son in May, 1911, that a new nickel would be "A permanent souvenir of the most attractive sort," MacVeagh, pointedly bypassing the competent but mediocre Barber, started the process for a new design.
The Buffalo nickel became a reality less than two years later. On March 4, 1913, coins from the first bag to go into circulation were presented to outgoing President Taft and 33 Indian Chiefs at the groundbreaking ceremonies for the National Memorial to the North American Indian at Fort Wadsworth, New York.
James Earle Fraser, a former assistant to Saint-Gaudens and a prolific artist best known for his monumental "End of the Trail" Indian sculpture, created a truly unique design for the new coin. Up until that time, except for Bela Lyon Pratt's quarter and half eagle of 1908, the "Indians" portrayed on U.S. coins were primarily Caucasian with an Indian headress, epitomized by Saint Gauden's Greek Nike head on the 1907 Indian eagle. Fraser's design accurately portrays Indians as they look, and the obverse portrait was a composite of three chiefs that had posed for him. Keeping with the distinctly American theme, he depicted an American bison on the reverse. The inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM are artfully placed over the buffalo, with the denomination FIVE CENTS below. The legend LIBERTY and the date are similarly well executed on the coin's obverse.
Fraser's design was medallic and beautiful, and for that reason was favored by Secretary MacVeagh. Its allure seemed to completely elude Barber, who complained that the design elements were too large and didn't allow for the proper placement of inscriptions. Barber didn't get very far with this, as the design remained unchanged over his objections. Reservations also came from the vending machine business, which felt that the new coins wouldn't pass counterfeit detection devices properly. After much wrangling over this, Secretary MacVeagh instructed the Mint to proceed with the original design, and let the vending machine companies adapt their mechanisms to the coin.
Over 1.2 billion Buffalo Nickels were minted from 1913 through 1938 at three mints; Philadelphia (no mintmark), San Francisco (S), and Denver (D). The mintmark can be found on the reverse under the denomination, while the designer's initial "F" is below the date. There were two varieties made. Type 1 nickels, minted only during the first few months of 1913, had the denomination FIVE CENTS on a raised mound. As early as April, rapid wear in this area became evident on the coins in circulation, so Barber finally got his chance to modify Fraser's design. He cut away the mound and placed the bison on a straight line, then put the denomination in the recessed area under the line. This solved the reverse wear problem, but then he kept going. He smoothed out much of the detail and granularity in both the Indian's portrait and the bison's hide. The resulting Type 2, however, lacked much of the artistic impact of the original. Barber again made minor modifications in 1916, and some specialists consider this a third type, but most type collectors only consider the Type 1 and 2 coins as actual varieties. It is strange that during all his modifications, Barber never addressed the problem of the date wearing down too rapidly.
No Buffalo nickels were made in 1922, 1932, and 1933. 5,967 Matte Proofs were made from 1913 through 1916, and 10,189 Brilliant Proofs in 1936 and 1937. Strike was an inherent problem with this coin from the beginning, and many deceptively well struck business strikes were mistaken for the matte proofs and vice versa. Many mintmarked coins, especially from 1918 through 1934, are virtually unavailable well struck. When grading these coins, and many other weakly struck Buffalos, you must take the surface into account, as many full luster pieces will not show rounded relief detail on the high points of the horn or the fringe on the tail. Generally, the date and LIBERTY will be faint on weakly struck pieces. The points on the coin that wear most readily are the high point of the Indian's cheekbone and the hair near the part. On the reverse, the bison's hip, the fringe on its tail and the horn are the first areas to show wear.
Collectors of this series have a fascinating array of "tough" dates and rarities to pursue. The most difficult coin to obtain is the very rare 1918/7-D overdate. Scarce to rare dates in high grade include all the San Francisco coins from 1913 through 1928, with 1918, 1920 and 1924 through 1927 being the rarest. Denver coins are usually weaker strikes than San Francisco pieces and present the collector with challenges like the 1918 through 1920 issues, and the 1925 and 1926 coins, along with the famous 1937-D 3-legged Buffalo. This extremely popular variety (caused by excessive die-polishing to remove clash-marks) was not discovered until most of the coins had reached circulation, making well-struck gem specimens very rare today. Particularly in the case of the "3-legger" or the 18/7-D overdate, authentication by experts is advised, as many counterfeits exist.
The past decade has witnessed renewed collector interest in the Buffalo series, no doubt stimulated by the wealth of new research published by nickel specialists. An ever-growing number of numismatists are assembling complete sets of Buffalos by date and mintmark, but demand is also strong from type collectors, all of whom seek this design for their 20th centuryor more comprehensivetype sets. Although well struck, inexpensive type examples such as 1938-D are available, many collectors prefer to pursue one of the scarcer dates.
By the end of 1937, planning for the Buffalo nickel's successor was well under way, as the design's required 25 years would end the following year. It was to be replaced by the third coin to bear a likeness of one of our presidents, Thomas Jefferson. The Jefferson nickel continues in production to this day.
Diameter: 21.2 millimeters
Weight: 5 grams
Composition: .750 copper, .250 nickel
Breen, Walter, Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, F.C.I.Press/Doubleday, New York, 1988.
Cohen, Annette R., and Druley, Ray M., The Buffalo Nickel, Potomac Enterprises, Arlington, VA, 1979.
Lange, David W., The Complete Guide to Buffalo Nickels, DLRC Press, Virginia Beach, VA, 1992.
Vermeule, Cornelius, Numismatic Art in America, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1971.
Wescott, Michael, with Keck, Kendall, The United States Nickel Five-Cent Piece, Bowers and Merena Galleries, Wolfeboro, NH, 1991.
WE WANT TO BUY YOUR AMERICAN BUFFALO GOLD BULLION COINS
We sell MS70 American Buffalo Gold Coins and American eagle boxes of coins in sealed United States government boxes. We also offer PCGS MS70 certified first strike American gold 1 ounce Buffalo Coins. You can exchange your coins for American Buffalo 1 Oz Gold Or American Eagle Coin We buy PCGS American Twenty Dollar Liberty and PCGS St. Gaudens Double eagles, Engelhard 100 Ounce Silver Bars, Pamp Suisse 24 karat bars, A-MARK Silver Rounds, American $20 Saints, 90% and 40% junk American Silver $ 500 and $1000 dollar face value U S coin bags, Johnson Matthey silver 100 Ounce JM bars, Australian Perth Mint 2008 Chinese Lunar 1/20, 1/10, 1/4, 1/2, 1 , 2, 10, Oz dragons, dogs, snakes , roosters, rats, horses, pigs, ox, tigers, rabbits, goats, monkeys. In addition, American 1 oz Gold Buffalo Coin Dealer Hannes Tulving wants Mexican 50 Pesos, PCGS Certified first strike 1 Oz American ms70 Buffalos and Proof American eagle Silver And Platinum coins Gold ms70 Buffalo Dealer Hannes Tulvingi s available every weekend and all holidays to Buy Your pre 1933 European and world gold coins including British King and Queen Sovereigns, French Angels, Ceres, Rooster, Louis Philip, Charles, Napoleon 20 Francs, King Edward British Sovereign coins, Swiss Helvetia 20 Francs, Italian Umberto 20 Lira, Netherlands King Wilhelm 10 Guilder, Austrian 4 Ducats, Russian 5, 10, 15 Rubles, Belgian Albert 20 Francs, Monaco 100 Franc, Swedish 20 Kronor. We are a member dealer of the Certified Coin dealer exchange and have been with the same bank since 1990 .The Tulving Company has been an authorized PCGS certified American Gold Buffalo coin dealer since 1998 and a NGC authorized Gold American Buffalo dealer since 1990. You can trade your PCGS American Proof Buffalo Gold Coins, South African Krugerrands, Chinese 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 oz Panda coins, Austrian Gold, Philharmonics, Australian Kangaroo Nuggets, and Canadian Gold Maple Leafs for coins we sell any time you want. In Addition, We want to buy your South American Gold such as Argentina 5 Peso, Chilean 100 Peso, Uruguay 5 Peso coins, Peruvian One Libra, Cuban 10 Peso, Brazilian 10,000 Reis, and Colombian 5 Pesos. For American gold, silver, platinum eagles and other coins we sell. You can exchange your U.S. Silver Eagle coin rolls, U.S. Twenty Dollar double eagle raw or PCGS certified Gold, Engelhard 100 Ounce Silver, Pamp Suisse gold bars, A-MARK Silver Rounds, United States $20 Saint Gaudens American Double Eagles, 90% Silver coin bags, Johnson Matthey 100 Ounce JM bars, Australian 2008 Chinese Lunar Gold, Mexican 50 Peso, U.S. Gold 1/10, 1/4, 1/2, and 1 Oz American Eagle dollar coin rolls and PCGS Proof American eagle Gold coins first strike certified Proof American ms70 Platinum , U.S. Proof Silver dollar Eagles, South African Krugerrands, Chinese 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 oz Pandas. Austrian 24-k Philharmonics, Australian Kangaroo Nuggets, Canadian Platinum and Palladium Maple Leafs, Credit Suisse bars. New We buy sell and trade other bullion products such as pamp suisse platinum and palladium bars, 10 oz a-mark silver bars, 100 Oz JM Bars, 90% Pre 1965 Silver American Coin Bags, PCGS Certified First strike American Buffalo ms70 Gold
Buffalo Nickel Coin Important
FACTORS YOU MUST CONSIDER IN PURCHASING BUFFALO NICKEL COINS AND GOLD SILVER BULLION ITEMS
BUFFALO NICKEL COINS RISK: The purchase of coins or bullion items are highly speculative and involves substantial risk. As in other markets, coin or bullion prices can be extremely volatile and will rise and fall depending upon market conditions. Therefore, before purchasing coins or bullion, you should first have adequate cash reserves and other assets to absorb a potentially significant loss. Sorry, but we do not make recommendations, we think you should buy what you want.
BUFFALO NICKEL COINS HOLDING PERIOD: Historically, few coins or bullion items have appreciated dramatically in the short term. Therefore, purchasers should recognize that it may well be necessary for them to hold coins for a 3 - 5 year period, or even a 5 - 10 year period, to have any chance of realizing a significant gain.
The Tulving Company (Since 1990)
P.O. Box 6200,
Newport Beach, CA 92658
800-995-1708, FAX 949-722-0296
If You Are in Alaska or Hawaii, call 7949-722-0290
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