Description and Analysis

Buffalo Five Cents
1918 S 5C MS

Description & Analysis

The 1918 S nickel had a rather modest mintage at a time when most production figures were quite high. Despite the hoarding of worn S-Mint coins from circulation that typified the coin hobby from the 1930s through the 1950s, this issue remains fairly scarce across all grades.

Mint State pieces do survive, but their quality is usually quite disappointing. Very weak strikes, whether from fresh or worn dies, are the norm. It appears that the San Francisco Mint increased the set distance between the dies to extend their useful life, so this issue never really had a chance.

The coin illustrated is typical of many Buffalo Nickels in that it reveals a mis-matched die pair. The obverse die is clearly quite worn, yet the reverse die was fresh, probably a replacement for one that became unusable through severe clashing or breaking. Such contradictions between obverse and reverse just add to the difficulty of grading Buffalo Nickels, particularly those in the higher circulated grades.

Gems of this date are exceedingly rare, while most Mint State coins will have less than satisfying luster.