Description and Analysis

Buffalo Five Cents

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.