VarietyPlus » Buffalo Nickels (1913-1938)

Buffalo Nickels (1913-1938)

One of the most beloved of United States coin designs, James E. Fraser’s Indian Head/Buffalo Nickel was nearly abandoned at the outset due to protests from the vending industry that its bold design would not activate their machines properly. These concerns proved unfounded, though the coin did have some technical flaws. The value FIVE CENTS had to be set within an exergue midway through the first year’s production to protect it from wear. Sadly, the same was not done for the date, and countless pieces were rendered unidentifiable after just a couple decades in circulation.

This is among the most popular of series with date and mint collectors, as there are no rare issues to prevent its completion. Scarce coins include nearly all mintmarked examples before 1916, most prominently 1913-S Type 2 and 1914-D. Still others are condition rarities, readily available in worn condition but quite scarce uncirculated and with sharp impressions.

This series has a number of very dramatic varieties, the most desirable being the 1916 doubled-die obverse, the 1918/7-D overdate and the 1937-D three-legged bison. Numerous minor varieties are known, too, and these receive more attention than they would merit in series that are less popular than the Buffalo Nickel.

NGC will attribute Buffalo Nickel varieties listed in VarietyPlus. Others may be found within the books listed below.

Denom.MS/PFDateFee*NGC LabelVarietyPlusCONECAFivaz-Stanton (NEW)Fivaz-Stanton (OLD)
5CMS1913 TYPE 1-     
5CMS1913 TYPE 1$153-1/2 LEGS  FS-901 
5CMS1913 TYPE 1$153-1/2 LEGS 2 FEATHERS  FS-901 
5CMS1913 D TYPE 1-     
5CMS1913 D TYPE 1$152 FEATHERS  FS-401 
5CMS1913 S TYPE 1-     
5CMS1913 S TYPE 1$15NO "F"    
5CMS1913 TYPE 2-     
5CMS1913 DDO TYPE 2$15FS-1101 DDO-001 FS-014.8
5CMS1913 DDR TYPE 2$15FS-1801 DDR-001 FS-014.86
5CMS1913 DDR TYPE 2$15FS-1802 DDR-002  
5CMS1913 D TYPE 2-     
5CMS1913 S TYPE 2-     
5CMS1914 S/S$15VP-001 RPM-001  
5CMS1915 DDO$15FS-101VP-001DDO-001 FS-014.9
5CMS1915 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1915 D 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1915 D/D$15FS-501VP-001RPM-001 FS-015
5CMS1915 S/S/S$15FS-501 RPM-001 FS-015.5
5CMS1915 S/S/S$15FS-502 RPM-002 FS-015.6
5CMS1916 DOUBLED DIE OBV- VP-001DDO-001FS-101FS-016
5CMS1916 NO "F"$15   FS-401 
5CMS1916 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-402 
5CMS1917 DDR$15FS-801VP-001DDR-001 FS-016.4
5CMS1917 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1917 D 3-1/2 LEGS$15   FS-901 
5CMS1917 S 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1918 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1918 DDR$15FS-801VP-001DDR-001 FS-016.45
5CMS1918/7 D- VP-001DDO-001FS-101FS-016.5
5CMS1918 S 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1919 DDO$15VP-001 DDO-002  
5CMS1919 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1919 NO "F" 2 FEATHERS$15     
5CMS1919 D 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1919 S 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1920 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1920 D 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1920 D/D$15FS-502 RPM-001  
5CMS1920 S 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1921 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1921 S 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1923 2 FEATHERS$15  FS-401  
5CMS1925 D 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1925 S 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1925 S/S$15FS-501VP-001RPM-001 FS-016.64
5CMS1926 DDO & DDR$15FS-101/801 DDO-002 & DDR-002  
5CMS1926 D 2 FEATHERS$15  FS-401  
5CMS1926 D 3-1/2 LEGS$15   FS-901 
5CMS1927 D/D/D$15FS-501VP-001RPM-001 FS-016.7
5CMS1927 D 3-1/2 LEGS$15   FS-901 
5CMS1927 S DDO$15FS-101 DDO-001  
5CMS1927 S 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1928 S 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1929 DDO-FS-101    
5CMS1929 S/S/S$15VP-001 RPM-002  
5CMS1929 S 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1930 DDO$15FS-101VP-001DDO-001 FS-017
5CMS1930 DDO$15FS-102VP-003DDO-004  
5CMS1930 DDO$15FS-103VP-004DDO-006  
5CMS1930 DDR$15FS-801 DDR-001 FS-017.5
5CMS1930 DDR$15FS-802VP-002DDR-002 FS-017.3
5CMS1930 S DDO$15FS-101 DDO-001  
5CMS1930 S 2 FEATHERS$15   FS-401 
5CMS1930 S/S$15FS-501VP-001RPM-002 FS-017.71
5CMS1930 S/S$15VP-002 RPM-005  
5CMS1930 S/S$15VP-003 RPM-001  
5CMS1931 S DDR$15FS-801 DDR-002  
5CMS1931 S TDR$15FS-802 DDR-003  
5CMS1931 S/S$15VP-001 RPM-001  
5CMS1934 D SMALL D$15     
5CMS1934 D LARGE D$15     
5CMS1935 DDR$15FS-801VP-001DDR-001 FS-018
5CMS1935 DDR$15FS-803 DDR-003 FS-018.1
5CMS1935 D/D/D/D$15FS-502VP-001RPM-002 FS-018.5
5CMS1935 D/D/D$15VP-002 RPM-003  
5CMS1935 S/S$15VP-002 RPM-002  
5CMS1935 S/S/S$15VP-003 RPM-001  
5CMS1935 S DDR$15FS-801VP-001DDR-001 FS-018.6
5CMS1936 DDO$15FS-101 DDO-001 FS-018.7
5CMS1936 DDR$15FS-801    
5CMS1936 D 3-1/2 LEGS$15   FS-901FS-019
5CMS1936 D/D$15FS-502VP-001RPM-002 FS-019.5
5CMS1936 D/D$15VP-002 RPM-003  
5CMS1936 D/D$15VP-003 RPM-001  
5CMS1936 S/S$15FS-501VP-001RPM-001 FS-020
5CMS1936 S/S$15VP-002 RPM-002  
5CMS1937 D/D$15VP-002 RPM-001  
5CMS1937 D/D$15VP-003 RPM-002  
5CMS1937 D/D$15VP-004 RPM-008  
5CMS1937 D 3 LEGS- VP-001 FS-901FS-020.2
5CMS1937 S/S$15VP-001 RPM-002  
5CMS1938 D BUFFALO-     
5CMS1938 D/D BUFFALO-     
5CMS1938 D/D BUFFALO$15FS-501VP-007RPM-001  
5CMS1938 D/D BUFFALO$15FS-502VP-005RPM-002  
5CMS1938 D/D BUFFALO$15FS-503VP-006RPM-003  
5CMS1938 D/D BUFFALO$15FS-504VP-008RPM-004  
5CMS1938 D/S BUFFALO-     
5CMS1938 D/D/D/S BUFFALO$15FS-511VP-001OMM-001 FS-020.5
5CMS1938 D/S BUFFALO$15FS-511 LDS    
5CMS1938 D/S BUFFALO$15FS-512 OMM-002  
5CMS1938 D/S BUFFALO$15FS-513 OMM-003  
5CPF1913 TYPE 1-     
5CPF1913 TYPE 2-     
5CPF1936 SATIN-     
5CPF1936 BRILLIANT-     

* In order to have the above varieties requiring the $15 fee designated by NGC, VarietyPlus service must be requested at time of grading. VarietyPlus service is also available for coins already encapsulated by NGC. For coins where the fee column is blank, no VarietyPlus charge is required to have your coin designated during grading. For coins marked $15, a $15 surcharge applies to the tier fee during grading, or a $15 fee applies to have the VarietyPlus designation added to any coin already graded and encapsulated by NGC.
Fivaz, Bill & J.T. Stanton. The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties, 5th Edition, Volume 1. Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2009
Lange, David W. The Complete Guide to Buffalo Nickels, 3rd Edition. DLRC Press, Virginia Beach, 2006
Wexler, John A., Ron Pope & Kevin Flynn. Treasure Hunting Buffalo Nickels. Stanton Publishing, Savannah, GA, 1999