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: 7/10/2015

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1931 S 5C MS
  GVGFVFXF5053555861626364656667686970
Base $ 15.50 16.50 18.50 22.50 33.00 48.00 55.00 58.00 63.00 71.00 85.00 110 165 335 825 38000 - - -
$ 37.00 - - - - - 90.00 120 200 540 2750 - -

The World Coin Price Guide is independently compiled by Krause Publications’ NumisMaster. NGC makes this information available to its website visitors as a free service, but in no way does the information provided represent NGC’s official opinion or policy. For example, varieties listed in the World Coin Price Guide may not necessarily be recognized by NGC. Please contact NGC Customer Service with any questions.

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 2050
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
5/4/2005 NGC MS 66   Heritage Auctions 2005 St. Louis, MO (CSNS) Signature Auction #372, 372/Lot# 6201 $805.00
1/31/2010 PCGS MS 66   Goldberg January 31 - February 3, 2010 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 57/Lot# 923 $575.00
5/27/2010 NGC MS 65   David Lawrence Rare Coins Thursday - Internet Auction # 483, 489/Lot# 7113 $264.50
9/20/2010 PCGS MS 65   Bonhams Coins and Banknotes, 18602/Lot# 1045 $234.00
4/27/2011 PCGS MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2011 April Rosemont CSNS Signature & Platinum Night US Coin Auction Session(6), 1154/Lot# 9967 $299.00
3/18/2012 PCGS MS 62   Teletrade Auction 3243, 3243/Lot# 1413 $103.50
7/6/2014 PCGS Genuine UNC   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 07/06/2014, 188/Lot# 198815 $55.00
7/25/2014 NGC AU 58   Stack's Bowers iAuction 3492, 6043/Lot# 22125 $52.88


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