2005 Buffalo Nickel Value and Prices

A program known as the Westward Journey nickel series featured commemorative coins struck in 2004 and 2005. The intention was to produce two Jefferson nickel types with two different reverse designs to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the first expedition following the Louisiana Purchase (1804 to 1806).

Jamie Franki was the inspiration for both variations, the one with the Ocean in the background and the other with American bison (buffalo). Additionally, Joe Fitzgerald created a distinctive obverse for these coins that features the likeness of Thomas Jefferson and the stylized word Liberty. The coin’s level of preservation and any potential errors determine the value of the 2005 Buffalo nickel.

History of the 2005 Buffalo Nickel

2005 Buffalo Nickel

The 2005 Jefferson nickel is one-of-a-kind in many ways. It features the new President’s likeness on the obverse and two different designs on the reverse, including:

  • The one marking the return of a cherished Buffalo nickel in America
  • The one with an ocean in the background represents the famous expedition through Louisiana from 1804 to 1805.

This was the first time the US Mint changed the President’s profile for the first time at that time. The plan was to commemorate the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s 200th anniversary in this manner.

Among the 144 designs submitted, the commission’s difficult task was to choose the three distinctive images for this coin type. The Monticello, however, returned to the reverse of the nickel the following year, and this design was only used for that one year.

On the obverse, Jefferson’s likeness and the remarkably handwritten word “LIBERTY” were created by artist Joe Fitzgerald. He also came up with the phrase OCEAN IN VIEW! O! THE JOY! for the reverse of the second coin.

William Clark wrote these words in his journal after a long journey from St. Louis, where he described his impression of the Pacific Ocean coast. Artist Jamie Franki created the GRAZING BUFFALO reverse design to represent the American Indians and wildlife Lewis and Clark encountered on their expedition.

These gorgeous coins were sculpted and engraved by US Mint artists Don Everhart, Donna Weaver, and Norman Nemeth. Even though it only circulated for a year, the 2005 Buffalo nickel is still one of the most sought-after contemporary American coins.

SEE: 1923 Silver Dollar Value

Features of the 2005 Buffalo Nickel

As you probably know, the US Mint produced five-cent coins from 1913 to 1938, with an Indian on the obverse and an American buffalo on the reverse.

The new nickel, which featured Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, on the reverse, debuted in 1939 and remained unchanged until 2005. A new temporary coin featuring Thomas Jefferson’s likeness on the obverse and the American buffalo on the reverse was produced that year by two talented designers, Joe Fitzgerald and Jamie Franki.

The obverse of the 2005 Buffalo nickel

On the head side of the 2005 buffalo nickel is a magnified image of Thomas Jefferson. Joe Fitzgerald did a great job with this coin attempting to portray him from a different angle. The right coin rim was struck with the words IN GOD WE TRUST and the year 2005. The word LIBERTY, written in the President’s handwriting, is an intriguing aspect of this piece. American coinage rarely uses the calligraphic cursive style.

The reverse of the 2005 Buffalo nickel

After accepting this challenging position, Jamie Franki designed the reverse with an American buffalo based on a vintage, wildly popular Buffalo nickel produced by the US Mint in 1938. In this manner, the beauty of two of America’s favorite coins was combined in the new design.

The buffalo is depicted in the coin’s center, with the denomination FIVE CENTS and the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA along the rim. They encircle the animal almost completely.

In contrast to the previous version, this bison is facing to the right. The essential Latin phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM has been relocated from the top to underneath the buffalo’s feet.

Other features of the 2005 Buffalo nickel

The round, 5-cent Buffalo nickel from 2005 has a plain edge of 25% nickel and 75% copper. It measures 0.07677 inches in thickness and 0.17637 ounces (5 g) in weight (1.95 mm). The coin is precisely 0.83504 inches in diameter (21.21 mm).

2005 Buffalo nickel
Face value5 cents ($0.05)
Compound25% nickel balanced by 75% copper
Coin thickness0.07677 inches (1.95 mm)
Coin diameter0.83504 inches (21.21 mm)
Coin weight0.17637 ounces (5 g)

What Is the Worth of 2005 Buffalo Nickel?

In 2005, 939,344,679 Buffalo nickels with a commemorative theme were produced by three mints. While the San Francisco mint only produced 3,344,679 proof coins, Philadelphia and Denver’s mints produced almost the same number of regular coins.

2005 Buffalo nickel
Philadelphia2005 P Bison448,320,000
Denver2005 D Bison487,680,000
San Francisco2005 S Bison3,344,679

Due to the high mintage, these nickels are widely available on the current coin market, and you should typically only pay their face value. However, some valuable pieces in good condition, as well as sought-after errors, can fetch high prices at auctions.

2005 P Buffalo nickel

The Philadelphia mint produced both versions of the Westward Journey Series. The American bison was featured on the reverse of the 448,320,000 Jefferson nickels produced. The typical price range for these coins with the P mint mark ranges from $0.40 to $1.50, depending on the grade.

A beautiful coin with a high rating is worth approximately $1,000. For instance, one regular strike 2005 P MS 67 Bison coin was sold at Heritage Auctions in 2016 for $998.75.

These coins were also struck with a special design by the Philadelphia Mint, ranging in value from $0.05 to $6. At Heritage Auctions in 2008, one collector paid $184 for the satin-finished 2005 P SP 69 Bison.

2005 D Buffalo nickel

A US bison can be found on the reverse of the 487,680,000 Jefferson nickels produced by the Denver Mint. Most items have a value between $0.05 and $1, but some high-quality examples cost around $35.

The 2014 Stack’s Bowers auction featured a 2005 D MS 67 Buffalo nickel that set an auction record when a collector bid $750 on it. However, in 2021, $2,650 was paid for a single 2005 D MS 66 Speared Bison on eBay.

Additionally, 1,160,000 special Bison coins were produced by the Denver Mint. Prices range from $0.05 to $20, depending on the degree of preservation. In 2016, Heritage Auctions’ top-priced nickel was a 2005 D SP69 Buffalo with a satin finish that cost $588.

2005 S-proof Buffalo nickel

The San Francisco mint produced only Jefferson nickel proofs from the Westward Journey series in 2005. The reverse of each coin featured the American bison.

Depending on quality, the value of the vast bulk of the 3,344,679 coins produced ranges from $0.25 to $15, but some pieces are more expensive. For instance, a collector paid $546 for the 2005 S PR 70 DCAM Buffalo nickel at the David Lawrence RC auction in 2005.

SEE: Morgan Silver Dollar Value

2005 Buffalo Nickel Errors

Aside from the usual errors during the minting process, the 2005 Buffalo nickel has a few unique and certified ones. The list includes the most sought-after Reverse Die Gouge mint errors, which are unique to this coin.

Die Gouge (Speared Bison) error

Die gouge mistakes happen when a foreign object from the dies pierces through the coin. It becomes stuck there and imprints odd shapes on the coin’s surface. This flaw is known as a Speared buffalo (bison) error on the 2005 Buffalo nickels struck at the Denver mint.

Because this object can affect various coin parts, keep in mind that these errors are not visually identical despite having the same characteristics. A spear-like feature on this nickel resembles a long line that enters and leaves the body of a bison.

These flaws are relatively uncommon, and the value of those coins is based on the uniqueness of each error. They typically range from $30 to $700, depending on the level of preservation, but some oddities can be worth thousands of dollars. The current auction record for a single 2005 D MS 66 Buffalo nickel (speared bison error) is $2,650. 

Improperly Annealed error

Although the exact cause of this error type is unknown, excessively long planchet strikes are most likely to blame. The planchet could also have been raised at high temperatures. It forced the copper from the coin’s core to rise to the surface and cover the nickel coating. You should expect to pay about $100 for one, even though this error is fairly typical for 2005 Buffalo nickels.

Clipped Planchet error

This error happens when the device that cuts planchets from slabs restrikes them. In this instance, the mechanism partially ejects the planchet, causing the coin to be cut into the shape of a small crescent moon.

Copper Wash error

This is a more dramatic version of the Improperly Annealed error. In this example, copper reaches the coin’s surface and coats the entire planchet with a thin layer of copper.

SEE: 1971 Half Dollar Value

FAQ about the 2005 Buffalo Nickel

What makes a 2005 Buffalo nickel rare?

This commemorative coin from the Westward Journey series features a new obverse design, but its reverse is the most intriguing part. The buffalo was depicted on American coins for the first time since the Buffalo nickel was discontinued in 1938. They are collectible pieces, but Speared Bison error coins are the most prized by collectors. These nickels are recognized as speared bison because of a thin line that runs through the middle of the buffalo’s body.

How much is the 2005 P Buffalo nickel worth?

Depending on the levels of preservation, the vast bulk of Buffalo nickels produced by the Philadelphia mint is worth between $0.40 and $1.50. However, some high-grade coins cost around $1,000.


  • The main factor to consider when estimating the nickel’s market value is typically how much wear the coin has. In some specific circumstances, rarity or errors may increase the cost. Unless it is in uncirculated condition or is a piece of proof, it is unlikely to be worth much more than its face value.

  • The last resort should always be to sell your rare or valuable nickels for their melt value. Discovering all the details about your coin would be a better idea so you could ascertain its current and accurate value.

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