How to Determine the Value of a 1913 “Buffalo” Nickel

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The 1913 “Buffalo” nickel is a highly sought-after coin among collectors due to its rarity and historical significance. In this article, we will discuss the various factors that can determine the value of a 1913 “Buffalo” nickel and provide a comprehensive guide to help you accurately assess its worth.

1. Overview of the 1913 “Buffalo” Nickel

The 1913 “Buffalo” nickel, also known as the Indian Head nickel, was designed by James Earle Fraser and minted by the United States Mint from 1913 to 1938. It features a Native American on the obverse side and a buffalo on the reverse side, hence its popular name. However, only five nickel specimens were officially produced in 1913, making it one of the most valuable and sought-after coins in the world.

1.1 Historical Significance

The 1913 “Buffalo” nickel holds immense historical significance as it marks a transition from the previous Liberty Head nickel design to the new Native American and buffalo design. Its limited mintage, mysterious origins, and scarcity have captivated collectors and coin enthusiasts for decades.

1.2 Varieties of the 1913 “Buffalo” Nickel

There are two distinct varieties of the 1913 “Buffalo” nickel:

  • Type 1: Without a denomination on the reverse side.
  • Type 2: With a denomination of “FIVE CENTS” added below the buffalo on the reverse side.

The Type 1 variety is considered to be the more valuable and rare of the two, as it was the original design and only a few examples were ever produced. The Type 2 variety is more common but still highly sought after by collectors.

2. Factors Affecting the Value of a 1913 “Buffalo” Nickel

The value of a 1913 “Buffalo” nickel can vary significantly depending on several key factors. Let’s explore each of these factors in detail:

2.1 Condition and Grade

The condition and grade of a coin play a crucial role in determining its value. Coins in better condition generally command higher prices. Professional coin grading services, such as the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), assess the condition of coins on a scale from 1 to 70, with 70 being a perfect, uncirculated coin. A higher grade typically translates to a higher value.

2.2 Rarity and Mintage

The rarity and mintage of a 1913 “Buffalo” nickel heavily influence its value. As mentioned earlier, only five official 1913 “Buffalo” nickels were produced. However, it is essential to be aware of counterfeit or altered coins that may attempt to replicate the rarity of the genuine ones. Consulting reputable coin dealers or experts can help verify the authenticity and rarity of a coin.

2.3 Type and Variety

The type and variety of a 1913 “Buffalo” nickel can impact its value. As mentioned earlier, the Type 1 variety without a denomination on the reverse side is generally more valuable than the Type 2 variety. Collectors often prioritize the scarcer variety when determining the value of a particular coin.

2.4 Demand and Popularity

The demand and popularity of the 1913 “Buffalo” nickel among collectors and numismatists can significantly influence its value. Coins that are highly sought after or have a significant historical or design appeal tend to command higher prices in the market.

2.5 Coin Market Conditions

The overall state of the coin market can impact the value of a 1913 “Buffalo” nickel. Market factors include supply and demand dynamics, economic conditions, and collector trends. It is essential to stay updated on the current state of the coin market and consult expert opinions to accurately gauge a coin’s value.

1913 Buffalo Nickels To Look For


3. Determining the Value of a 1913 “Buffalo” Nickel

Now that we have discussed the factors that can affect the value of a 1913 “Buffalo” nickel, let’s delve into the process of determining its worth:

3.1 Research and Reference Materials

Begin by conducting thorough research on the 1913 “Buffalo” nickel and its various aspects. Reference books, online resources, and numismatic publications can provide valuable information on historical context, mintage figures, varieties, and recent market trends.

3.2 Authenticity Verification

Ensure the authenticity of the coin by consulting reputable coin dealers or experts. Counterfeit coins can be prevalent, especially for rare and valuable coins like the 1913 “Buffalo” nickel. Look for genuine mint marks, check for any signs of alteration or tampering, and consider professional authentication services if needed.

3.3 Coin Grading

Have the coin professionally graded by a reputable grading service, such as PCGS or NGC. This will provide an unbiased assessment of the coin’s condition and assign a numerical grade, which is essential for accurately determining its value.

3.4 Price Guides and Auction Records

Consult price guides, auction records, and online marketplaces to gather information on the recent sales prices of 1913 “Buffalo” nickels in similar condition and variety. This will give you a benchmark to assess the coin’s potential value.

3.5 Seek Expert Opinion

Reach out to experienced coin collectors, dealers, or numismatists who specialize in rare coins like the 1913 “Buffalo” nickel. Their expertise and knowledge can provide valuable insights into the coin’s value and market dynamics.

Take into account the current trends and demand within the coin collecting community. Market conditions can fluctuate, and the value of a 1913 “Buffalo” nickel may vary accordingly. Stay informed about any significant developments or events that may impact the market.

4. Conclusion

The value of a 1913 “Buffalo” nickel is determined by multiple factors, including its condition, rarity, type, demand, and market conditions. By conducting thorough research, verifying authenticity, and consulting experts, you can accurately assess the value of a 1913 “Buffalo” nickel. Remember, the rarity and historical significance of this iconic coin make it a prized possession for collectors around the world.

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