US Coins

1913 'Buffalo nickel' with great eye appeal tops $28K

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:

1913 Indian Head, Bison on Mound 5-cent piece, PCGS MS-68, green CAC sticker

The Price:


The Story:

1913 was the first year of Fraser’s famed 5-cent piece, and examples that year were struck in two subtypes. The first, Bison on Mound (or Type 1) reverse has FIVE CENTS raised on the mound on which the bison stands, while the second, the Bison on Plain (Type 2) issues feature a depressed area below the mound, where FIVE CENTS is protected.

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Because the Bison on Mound coin was a first year of issue with a high mintage, examples were kept in large quantities and it is generally an affordable type coin.

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?

It was also well-produced at the Philadelphia Mint, with the typical example having a bold strike and solid luster. The example offered by Legend in Las Vegas, Nev., was called “about as perfect as you could hope to find in a circulation strike Buffalo! Not only is the technical quality all there and then some, the eye appeal is nothing short of superb.” Graded Mint State 68 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, it sold for a massive $28,200.

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

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.

1935-S 'Buffalo nickel''Whoa, the colors!' on this 1935-S 'Buffalo nickel' that topped $11,000: This 1935-S Indian Head 5-cent piece, the sole piece graded MS-67+ by PCGS, is from a large mintage of more than 10 million coins.

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