Coin Specifications

Category: Buffalo Five Cents (1913-1938)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 1,200,000
Catalog: KM-134
Obverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
Reverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
Composition: Copper-Nickel
Weight: 5.00 Grams
Diameter: 21.2mm
Edge: Plain
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1931 S 5C MS obverse 1931 S 5C MS reverse


  
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Description & Analysis

The San Francisco Mint had no legitimate reason for coining nickels in 1931, as the demand for additional pieces simply didn't exist at the time. Indeed, a mere 194,000 were coined there in January, at which point production ceased. In November Acting Mint Director Mary O'Reilly wrote to the SFM superintendent pointing out that this small production would lead to an extraordinary demand from collectors and suggesting that he suspend dime production and churn out only nickels for the remaining weeks of 1931. This was done, resulting in a total mintage of 1,200,000 1931 S nickels. These coins sat idle in vaults for the next several years, not being released in quantity until 1935. Speculators jumped on this low-mintage issue, and many thousands were preserved in Mint State.

It is actually among the more common Buffalo Nickels in such grades, and worn examples are less often seen than new ones. In his book The Complete Guide to Buffalo Nickels, David W. Lange observed that "1931-S is to the Buffalo Nickel series what 1950-D is to the Jefferson Nickels."

This has done nothing to lessen the demand, though it does keep this low-mintage coin from becoming expensive. While a few sharply struck examples are known, most are a bit soft at their centers. Nearly all, however, have excellent luster.

Several doubled-die reverse varieties are known, but these have attracted little interest. More appealing is a distinct S/S variety.

GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 4/3/2014

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1931 S 5C MS
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 15.50 16.50 18.50 22.50 33.00 33.00 48.00 55.00 58.00 63.00 67.00 71.00 80.00 105 160 325 700 32500 - - -
$ 37.00 52.00 58.00 63.00 67.00 71.00 75.00 90.00 115 210 450 2675 48000 -
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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 1929
Low Grade: G
Average Grade: 63
High Grade: 67


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
6/4/2005 NGC MS 65   Heritage Auctions Continuous Internet Auction #65062, 65062/Lot# 24277 $253.00
5/25/2008 PCGS MS 66   Goldberg May 25-27, 2008 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 47/Lot# 3895 $10,350.00
9/20/2010 PCGS MS 65   Bonhams Coins and Banknotes, 18602/Lot# 1045 $234.00
12/2/2010 PCGS MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2010 December Houston Signature US Coin Auction Session(4), 1147/Lot# 7572 $241.50
2/7/2011 NGC MS 66   David Lawrence Rare Coins Monday - Internet Auction # 556, 563/Lot# 1127 $546.25
2/28/2012 PCGS MS 64   Stack's Bowers The March 2012 Baltimore Auction, 135/Lot# 1892 $345.00
8/20/2012 PCGS MS 64   Teletrade Auction 3332, 3332/Lot# 1266 $150.00
2/3/2014 PCGS MS 66   Heritage Auctions 2014 February 3 - 5 US Coins Signature Auction - New York Session(5), 1202/Lot# 7387 $499.38
7/6/2014 NGC MS 65   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 07/06/2014, 188/Lot# 200638 $243.00


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The San Francisco Mint Coins of 1931, Part One

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