US Coins

'Whoa, the colors!' on this $11,465 'Buffalo nickel'

James Earle Fraser’s Indian Head 5-cent coins or “Buffalo nickels” are among the most beloved American coins.

On Dec. 15 in the last major rare coin auction of the year, Legend Rare Coin Auctions sold dozens of gorgeous, rainbow-toned examples from a stellar collection assembled over the last decade by Andy and Alynne Skrabalak of Angel Dee’s Coins and Collectibles.

Many of the offered lots represented the finest certified examples and all were selected for tremendous eye appeal. Bidders paid strong prices for these impressive “nickels.” 

Here is one of three we’re profiling in this week’s Market Analysis.

The Lot:

1935-S Indian Head 5-cent piece, PCGS Mint State 67+

The Price: 


The Story:

“Buffalo nickels” produced at the Denver and San Francisco Mints can often be found weakly struck, especially when compared to their counterparts coming from the Philadelphia Mint. This 1935-S Indian Head 5-cent piece, the sole piece graded Mint State 67+ by Professional Coin Grading Service, is from a large mintage of more than 10 million coins; PCGS has graded just 38 in MS-67.

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Legend excitedly wrote, “Whoa, the colors! Toned in moderately psychedelic colors. Both obverse and reverse are well struck and awash in bright pink, green, blue, orange, violet, and gold. The luster is strong and bold. The surfaces are clean and free of any distracting marks. Andy Skrabalak called the coin awesome, adding, ‘I think the obverse is MS68!’ ” The stunning San Francisco Mint issue sold for $11,456.25.

Indian Head 5-cent coin

Indian Head 5-cent coin: The so-called "Buffalo nickel," which features the design work of renowned sculptor James Earle Fraser, is arguably the most "American" of all United States coins and is a collector favorite. How much are Indian Head 5-cent coins worth?


Read about more “Buffalo nickels” sold at the Las Vegas sale:

1835 Coronet centFirst-year ‘Buffalo nickel’ with great eye appeal tops $28K:Because the Bison on Mound coin was a first year of issue with a high mintage, examples were kept in large quantities. So why did this one top $28,000?

1938-D 'Buffalo nickel'Why this 1938-D ‘Buffalo nickel’ is among the finest of its kind: It’s the most common coin in the series in Mint State grades, as many were saved in rolls. Here's why this one sold for $12,925 at auction.

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