Coin Specifications

Category: Buffalo Five Cents (1913-1938)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 1,557,000
Obverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
Reverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
Composition: Copper-Nickel
Weight: 5.0000g
Diameter: 21.2mm
Edge: Plain
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1921 S 5C MS obverse 1921 S 5C MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

Only 1-1/2 million nickels were coined at the San Francisco Mint early in 1921 before the demand for additional pieces dried up completely until late 1923. This issue is scarce across all grades, and Mint State pieces are genuinely rare. Gems are very rare.

The obverse master die for 1921 was sharpened with hand engraving, resulting in a crisper rendition of the date and designer's initial. Of course, this was of little value when the working dies were permitted to wear down and become blurry. This is more of a problem with the reverse dies, as these could be carried into 1921's coinage from earlier years. Most were not removed from the press until they failed altogether. It's thus not unusual to find a 1921 S nickel that has a sharp obverse and a mushy reverse.

Like most early dates in the Buffalo Nickel series, this issue may be found in a "two-feathers" die state. Clashing and repolishing of the dies often removed the shallow feather adjacent to the Indian's neck, and this feature is barely visible on the coin illustrated. Since this is not a true variety, NGC does not recognize "two-feathers" coins.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 1/17/2017

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

1921 S 5C MS
Base $ 70.00 110 180 370 890 1175 1250 1400 1575 1675 1800 2000 2500 4450 8450 20500 - - - -
$ - - - - - - - 2100 3200 5250 11750 - - -

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Total Graded: 1289
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 40
High Grade: 66

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
5/25/2002 PCGS VF 25   Heritage Auctions Exclusively Internet Auction #22073, 22073/Lot# 15098 $356.50
7/28/2003 PCGS VG 8   Teletrade Auction 1758, 1758/Lot# 1051 $71.50
2/11/2007 NGC MS 65   Goldberg February 11-14, 2007 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 39/Lot# 1208 $8,400.00
1/5/2011 NGC MS 62   Heritage Auctions 2011 January Tampa FUN Signature & Platinum Night US Coin Auction Session(2), 1151/Lot# 4437 $1,610.00
5/4/2014 PCGS G 6   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 802, 811/Lot# 325 $55.00
7/6/2014 NGC Details VG Details  GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 07/06/2014, 188/Lot# 202474 $60.00
10/12/2014 PCGS MS 64   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 825, 834/Lot# 561 $2,900.00
6/28/2015 PCGS   Stack's Bowers iAuction 3533, 6112/Lot# 20321 $440.63

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1921 5C MS S
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: XF 45
Points: 1649
Grade: VF 20
Points: 949
Owner: The Wilson Collection
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