James E. Fraser designed the Buffalo nickel (also known as the Indian head nickel) in 1913 and it was produced until 1938. He intended to pay tribute to both Native Americans and the American Bison, a Wild West symbol. In 1935, three mints—in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Denver—produced a total of 80,656,000 Buffalo nickels. Except for a double die reverse and other errors that cost a significant amount of money, this number makes the 1935 Nickel value low.
History of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel
Americans used the half-disme coin from 1792 to 1873; the’s’ was initially silent and later dropped. In its place, a 5-cent cupronickel coin was introduced starting in 1866. This was a direct response to the silver stackers who were stockpiling silver half-dimes for their melt value because silver prices were so high and melted coins were worth more than preserved ones.
Shield Nickel was in circulation between 1866 and 1883 and was the first 5-cent cupronickel coin. From 1883 to 1912, the Liberty Head Nickel was the following coin, followed by Buffalo Nickel from 1913 to 1938. In 1938, the Jefferson Nickel was introduced and is still in use today. The Indian Head Nickel was another name for the Buffalo Nickel. The less offensive term “Buffalo” is preferred by many.
However, some people have called it the Native American Head Nickel. This naming pattern is derived from the buffalo on the coin’s reverse and the Native American chief on the obverse. Additionally, it is a bison, not a buffalo, technically. Although both animals are cows, the bison is a native of America, whereas the buffalo primarily inhabits Africa and Asia.
This is significant because the president’s desire for beauty led to the creation of the Buffalo Nickel. The 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, believed American coins lacked artistic merit and were ugly. So he asked the mint to employ qualified artists who could make the coins appealing. In 1904, they debuted the gold series (eagle, double eagle, etc.).
Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the first artist hired for the position. Before he died from cancer, he redesigned the double eagle ($20 gold coin) and the eagle ($10). Some of his assistants stepped in to finish the job. James Earle Fraser created the Buffalo Nickel. He did, however, experience some backlash.
Hobbs Vs. the Buffalo Nickel
The Native American Chief and the bison were two of Fraser’s three sketches that the mint chose, but it’s not clear who actually posed for the portrait. Clarence Hobbs was the owner of the Hobbs Manufacturing Company, which manufactured machines to detect counterfeit coins. He requested several changes after Buffalo Nickel confused his machines. Because of his interference, the process was delayed from July 1912 until February 1913, when Fraser objected in a 10-page letter.
Franklin MacVeagh, the Treasury Secretary, called a meeting to resolve the issue. In the end, Fraser was permitted to keep using his coin after the meeting, which served as a mock trial. Although the general public well received the coin, journalists and numismatists were less enthralled. They observed that while the coin was beautiful, it would quickly lose that beauty once used. Sadly, they were accurate, and the coins’ dates and features quickly disappeared.
Additionally, the coins were tough on the dies, which wore out three times more quickly than Liberty Head dies. The mint attempted to improve the design by flattening the hill on which the bison was standing and enlarging the denomination. Unfortunately, these Type II Buffalo Nickels wore out even more quickly than the Type I Buffalo Nickels. The mint was, therefore, content to phase them all out by 1938.
It’s important to note that, despite Theodore Roosevelt initiating the coin beautification project, William Howard Taft, the following president, oversaw the minting of the Buffalo Nickel (1909 to 1913). On February 22, 1913, he introduced the coins and distributed 40 samples to prominent Native American Chiefs. On March 3, his final working day as US President, Taft gave his approval for Fraser’s payment.
SEE: 1916-1945 Mercury Dime Value
Features of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel
The 1935 Buffalo Nickel is identical to its siblings from previous years in terms of features. Like many goods and services (consider books and movies), these aesthetic Buffalo Nickels were adored by the general public but despised by professional critics like numismatists and media representatives. However, the design choice was validated when the bison appeared on the American Bison Nickel, also known as the Westward Journey Nickel. Let’s dig in!
The Obverse of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel
The 1935 Buffalo Nickel’s obverse (heads side) depicts a Native American chief with feathers in his hair. His features are cut quite close to the collar, and the coin is closely cropped. The legend Liberty is squished along the upper right collar, in front of his brow and nose. The F for Fraser is located beneath the date, which is situated next to his side braid below his neckline.
The Reverse of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel
The 1935 Buffalo Nickel’s reverse (tails side) has a bison that takes up most of the design space. The words United States of America and E Pluribus Unum are inscribed above the bison’s shoulder. Five Cents are placed under the bison’s feet as it stands on the flattened ground. The mint mark appears below the coin’s denomination.
Other Features of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel
The 1935 Buffalo Nickel has a diameter of 21.21mm (0.835″) and a thickness of 1.95mm (0.077″). It has a smooth, unreeded edge and weighs 5g. It is made of 75% copper and 25% nickel, with the nickel being on the outside of the coin, giving it a shiny silver appearance. Due to design flaws, the date on many existing Buffalo Nickels has worn away due to frequent coin handling.
There are two varieties of Buffalo Nickels. The bison is depicted as standing on a hill in Type I Buffalo Nickels. The bison is on a flatter surface on Type II Buffalo Nickels, and the denomination is written in a larger font. The date and denomination are frequently missing from coin samples because the bottom of the coin wore out the quickest. Also, errors are frequent on this coin because the dies break easily.
|1935 Buffalo Nickel|
|Face value||5 cents ($0.05)|
|Compound||75% copper and 25% nickel|
|Coin weight||0.17637 ounces (5 g)|
|Coin diameter||0.83465 inches (21.2 mm)|
|Coin thickness||0.07677 inches (1.95 mm)|
SEE: What is the Value of a Bicentennial Quarter?
1935 Buffalo Nickel Value Guide
Fraser received $2,500 for creating the coin and $666.15 for additional edits. The sharpness of the details, which also determines the coin grade, usually determines a coin’s value. The raised elements of Buffalo Nickels, such as the date, denomination, and the bison, particularly its tail and horns, suffered the most wear and tear. Let’s examine the value of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel.
1935 (P) No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel Value
In 1935, the Philadelphia mint struck 58,264,000 Buffalo nickels for regular circulation without adding a mint mark. This coin can be purchased in good condition for just $1, but mint-state examples can cost up to $50. This coin may be worth an astounding $250 in its certified mint state.
Only 1% of all 1935 Buffalo nickels that have been preserved are thought to be in high grades with desirable luster and complete details. As a result, the coin in MS 65 condition will only be worth a little over $100, while an MS 67 specimen will be worth between $250 and $1,000.
If you can find this nickel in MS 68 condition, the value of this extremely rare coin can reach $35,000. There is currently only one piece in the world with such a high grade.
1935 D Buffalo Nickel Value
The D Mint Mark appeared on 12,092,000 Buffalo Nickels minted in 1935 at the Denver Mint. The 1935 D is in the middle of the mintage range, so while it sells for melt value in lower grades (roughly $1.13), you can get about $94 for one if you find one in better mint state grades. An example of 1935 D Buffalo Nickel in MS 67 with no flaws can fetch more than $7,000 on the open market.
1935 S Buffalo Nickel Value
In 1935, the San Francisco Mint coined 10,300,000 Buffalo Nickels with the S Mint Mark. It’s the year’s lowest mintage, making them the rarest coins. The coin is worth melt value in low grades, which is barely a dollar. In MS 63 or higher, you can get $79 or so. In a superior grade and without any errors, a 1935 S Buffalo Nickel in MS 67 sells for $5,700.
1935 Buffalo Nickel Errors
SMS Coins are struck just once but with increased pressure to ensure clarity. The die, hub, and coin stages are repeated many times for all other coins. Errors can occur when moving in between strikes. And while some mistakes only add a few cents to the value of your 1935 Buffalo Nickel, others can make it worth thousands. Let’s take a look at some flaws to see what’s what.
1935 Buffalo DDR Error
In DDR errors, the letters or numbers are doubled because the die shifts between strikes. DDR stands for Double Die Reverse, and the mistake was made on the reverse die designed for the tail side of your coin. A 1935 S Nickel DDR costs $130 in VF 20, $410 in AU 55, and $1,100 in MS 64. You’ll notice a doubling of the L and U in the word “Pluribus.”
1935 Buffalo Nickel S/S RPM Error
Machines carry out the majority of minting strikes. However, mint marks were manually stamped using a hand-held punch and a mallet until 1989. This is why re-punched mint marks (RPMs) are so common. The RPM, in this instance, is an S on top of another S, indicating that the coin moved a little bit between strikes. They are simple to spot but only worth $30 to $40 in XF grades.
1935 D Buffalo Nickel D/D RPM Error
Repunched mint marks can also be found on Denver Buffalo Nickels. In some cases, the original mint mark conceals the re-punch. But occasionally, one of the marks is tilted or slightly off-center, which might have also moved slightly to the left or right. It’s worth $90 in VF 20 and $540 in MS 64.
1935 Buffalo Nickel DDR Error
In its best grades, a DDR error on the 1935 S Buffalo Nickel is worth about $1,000. What about Buffalo Nickels with No Mint Mark from 1935 (P)? One sample is known to have sold for more than $7,000, and another allegedly sold for $25,300. The coin’s grade determines the cost, and an AU 58 1935 No Mint Mark DDR sold for over $11,000. An MS 65 fetched $104,650 at auction in 2007.
The 1935 Buffalo nickel’s value has remained consistent over the years, just like other Buffalo nickels. These coins won’t respond to changes in the gold and silver markets because they don’t contain any precious metals.
Prices for some key dates and rarities have recently decreased after peaking in 2008. However, because there is a market for these items, particularly among intermediate and experienced collectors, experts anticipate more or less stable prices.
Keep in mind that one of the rarest coins in the series is the 1935 double-die reverse Buffalo nickel. It would be best if you were extremely cautious when purchasing one of these rare coins because they are frequently faked.
SEE: 2009 Penny: Features and Value
1935 Buffalo Nickel Grading
As fashionable coins, buffalo nickels are sought after by many coin collectors. The following variables directly affect their value:
- Design type
- Minting errors
- The mint mark and date
- A condition that includes scratches, edge wear, and loss of details
Uncirculated – This nickel has a freshly-minted appearance, and you cannot see any scratches or other surface damage because such a piece was never used. Additionally, you will notice the superb luster that every collector values.
Extra fine – Such a well-defined coin circulated for a short period and appeared pristine at first glance. However, a closer look reveals that the surface lacks shine and has light scratches and stains. The Indian hair details have a few minor signs of wear.
Fine – This nickel has been in use for a while so you can see the surface’s inevitable wear. The most noticeable signs of wear can be found near the Indian’s cheekbone and the buffalo’s front legs. You might have trouble identifying the date because you won’t see the date’s finer details, from the animal’s hoof to its shoulder top.
Good – It is the lowest grade for a collectible coin, indicating that it has been in use for a long time. The inscriptions and images of an Indian and a buffalo are difficult to read because the coin’s surface is smooth and noticeably flattened, and some of them might be bent and appear battered.
|1935 Buffalo Nickel Value*|
|Quality||1935||1935 S||1935 D|
|Good||$0.7 to $0.8||$0.7 to $0.8||$0.7 to $0.8|
|Very good||$0.9 to $1.3||$0.9 to $1.3||$0.9 to $1.3|
|Fine||$1 to $1.6||$1.1 to $1.6||$2.1 to $3.2|
|Very fine||$1.5 to $2||$1.9 to $2.5||$5.4 to $13|
|Extra fine||$2.6 to $4.9||$2.6 to $11.3||$20.2 to $35.6|
|AU||$7.4 to $21||$22.3 to $43.7||$48.6 to $75|
|MS 60||$23 to $27.5||$50 to $60||$74 to $89|
|MS 61||$24.3 to $29||$54 to $65||$81 to $97|
|MS 62||$31 to $37.2||$58 to $70||$81 to $97|
|MS 63||$37.8 to $45.4||$74 to $89||$94 to $113|
|MS 64||$55 to $66||$88 to $105||$122 to $140|
|MS 65||$115 to $133||$182 to $218||$300 to $344|
|MS 66||$195 to $224||$338 to $389||$715 to $822|
|MS 67||$819 to $1,090||$2,380 to $2,880||$8,120 to $11,200|
Most collectors can afford the buffalo nickel set, but the most ardent admirers may have trouble locating specimens in excellent condition. The condition and potential errors will affect their prices. 1935 coins are relatively common, but it might be difficult to locate highly graded specimens, and a doubled die reverse nickel can sometimes cost a fortune.