1915-D Buffalo Nickel

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Buffalo Nickel

The Buffalo Nickel was part of president Theodore Roosevelt’s Renaissance of American Coinage, which set out to bring new life to the designs of U.S. coins. Designed by sculptor James Earl Fraser, the Buffalo Nickel replaced the Liberty Head Nickel and was followed by the current Jefferson Nickel

The Buffalo Nickel’s design was created to honor Native American heritage. The obverse features a Native American, facing right, that is thought to be a composite of multiple Native American chiefs from different tribes. The coin’s date can be found on the man’s shoulder, and the inscription, “LIBERTY,” curves along the top right side of the coin. The coin was struck in great detail, with features such as defined cheekbones, hair texture, and feathers appearing to be very realistic on well-preserved coins.

The reverse features a highly-detailed buffalo standing on top of a flat landscape. The buffalo was modeled after a Central Park Zoo bison named Black Diamond. “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” is inscribed along the top rim of the coin and the Latin motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” can be found above the back half of the bison. The coin denomination is inscribed at the bottom of the coin.

Originally, the reverse had the buffalo standing on a raised mound, but the design was altered over concerns that the inscription, “FIVE CENTS,” would wear away quickly. This resulted in two types of Buffalo Nickels being minted in its first year of production — Type 1 with the mound and Type 2 without. A similar concern existed regarding the obverse of the coin with the date having been placed on the raised shoulder.  No alterations were ever made.  This resulted in many “no date” Buffalo Nickels over the years as the date quickly wore away.

The Buffalo Nickel was minted in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. For nickels minted outside of Philadelphia, the mint mark can be found on the reverse below the denomination. Coins produced at the Denver Mint were marked with a “D” while those from San Francisco were marked with “S”. There are sixty-four total date and mint mark combinations for the Buffalo Nickel, including Type 1 and 2 1913 nickels. While there are no extreme rarities, there are a few key dates and varieties to look out for. These include 1913-S Type 2, 1916/16 doubled die, 1918-D 8/7 overdate, 1921-S, 1924-S, 1926-S, and 1937-D Three-legged Buffalo. 

Weight: 5 grams
Composition: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
Diameter: 21.2 mm
Edge: Plain
Mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco

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