Coin Specifications

Category: Buffalo Five Cents (1913-1938)
Mint: Denver
Mintage: 7,020,000
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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1938 D BUFFALO 5C MS obverse 1938 D BUFFALO 5C MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

The nation slipped back into recession during 1937-38 on its way to full recovery a few years later. This terminated the demand for new nickels from the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints, and only Denver struck Buffalo Nickels in this last year of issue. These, too, were evidently not needed at the time, as collectors beseeched the Treasury to obtain specimens, while banks continued to dispense fresh rolls of 1936- and 1937- dated nickels. When the 1938 D Buffalo Nickels did finally begin to be distributed, thousands of rolls were immediately put away by speculators, as it was by then known that this coin was the last of its line.

By far the most common Buffalo Nickel in Mint State condition, worn examples are actually more rare. This issue comes every which way, with both well struck and mushy coins surviving in equal numbers. The only constant is that 1938 D Buffalo Nickels were wonderfully lustrous as made. This has greatly boosted the certified population of high grade coins, though many of these are less than fully struck and should be avoided by the discriminating collector.

There are several repunched mintmark varieties, as well as a few overmintmarks, too. Due to the great availability of 1938 D Buffalo Nickels, these varieties have a strong following and are thus treated in separate entries following this one.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 1/17/2017

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

Base $ 3.75 4.00 4.25 4.50 5.75 9.25 10.50 11.50 14.00 21.00 23.00 27.00 30.00 33.00 50.00 65.00 180 13800 - -
$ - - - - - - - - - - - 100.00 1100 -

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Total Graded: 33933
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 65
High Grade: 68

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
5/24/2004 NGC MS 67   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet-Only Auction #4, 8/Lot# 27 $157.55
5/28/2006 PCGS MS 67   Goldberg May 28-31, 2006 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 36/Lot# 134 $253.00
9/24/2006 NGC MS 66   Heritage Auctions Exclusively Internet Auction #66101, 66101/Lot# 24126 $54.00
7/7/2008 PCGS MS 66   Teletrade Auction 2554, 2554/Lot# 1156 $123.20
5/8/2011 NGC MS 65   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 05/08/2011, 114/Lot# 8279 $40.00
7/29/2012 NGC MS 66   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131232/Lot# 20061 $47.00
1/13/2013 PCGS MS 65   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131304/Lot# 20135 $364.25
5/12/2014 NGC MS 66   Stack's Bowers iAuction 3481, 6030/Lot# 20141 $47.00

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