Coin Specifications

Category: Buffalo Five Cents (1913-1938)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 1,200,000
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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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.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 9/27/2019

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

1931 S 5C MS
Base $ 17.00 20.00 22.00 25.00 33.00 50.00 52.00 58.00 65.00 68.00 75.00 90.00 115 170 310 750 24100 - - -
$ - - - - - - - 95.00 125 215 520 1700 - -

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Total Graded: 2351
Low Grade: G
Average Grade: 62
High Grade: 67

The chart showing G series, VG series, F series, VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series, 65 series, 66 series, 67 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 2/18/2020 1931 S 5C MS

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