What Is The Metal Value Of Buffalo Nickels?


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The metal value of a buffalo nickel is 75% copper and 25% nickel. The nickel is worth 5 cents and weighs just 5 grams. The coin has a 21mm diameter and was officially called an Indian Head Nickel, and was in distribution between 1913 and 1938. Undated buffalo nickels have no real market value, although those that show dates do. Undated coins are more common.

  • Nickels during the war
The coin changed to the Jefferson nickel in 1938 and the composition of the coins changed between 1942 and 1945, as nickel was needed for the war, and the coins were made of 56% copper, 35% silver and the remaining 9%, manganese.

  • Buffalo nickel
The coins were minted in Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco, and were designed by James Earl Fraser. The coin had a Native American on the front, and a buffalo on the reverse. It is thought that the model for the buffalo picture was a bison called Black Diamond, who was resident in Central Park Zoo, in New York at the time. The Indian on the front is though to have been modeled on Iron Tail or Two Moons. The coins were not made in 1922, due to an economic recession, when it was decided that only silver coins would be produced. In 1932 and 1933 no coins were minted as the country went through the Great Depression. Over 1.2 billion buffalo nickels were issued before the design of the coin changed and the Jefferson nickel took its place in 1938.

  • The Jefferson nickel
The Jefferson nickel was in use between 1938 and 2003, when it was itself replaced by different designs featuring the Indian Peace Medal, and a keel boat in full sail, and later by public chosen designs including an American bison and the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson returned to the coin in 2006, on the forward-facing Jefferson nickel.

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