About the Buffalo Nickel
Minted from 1913 till 1938, the Indian Head, commonly referred to as the Buffalo Nickel, has been a loved coin that can be found in almost every established collector’s hoard.
James Earl Fraser was the original designer of the Buffalo Nickel, creating a coin that paid homage to America’s Native Americans and the iconic American Bison of the west. Fraser’s Buffalo Nickel replaced the long-running Liberty Head Nickel in 1913.
The obverse of the Buffalo Nickel features a bust of a Native American facing right, with the date minted directly below. The word “LIBERTY” can be found directly to the right of the bust.
On the reverse, Fraser used a depiction of the American Bison as the main design, which can be found centered. The denomination “FIVE CENTS” can be found directly below the ground that the bison is standing on. “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” can be found above the bison.
Unlike other series of coins that had many composition changes over their lifetimes, the Buffalo Nickel was made of the same composition throughout its entire life. This composition was made of a 75% nickel and 25% copper mix and resulted in the Buffalo Nickel weighing 5.0 grams. The diameter is 21.2mm and has no reeding that can be found on the edges.
If you would like to know more about the Buffalo Nickel or other rare and collectible nickels, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Nickels.
History of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel
The final three years of the Buffalo Nickel series saw a large increase in the number of examples that were produced. This resulted in 58,264,000 1935 Buffalo Nickels being produced. This is the smallest mintage out of the final three years of Buffalo Nickel production.
One problem that all Buffalo Nickels faced was the heavy wear that happened quickly while in circulation. This means that most 1935 Buffalo Nickels will have a good amount of wear on them, resulting in the condition being either “Good” or “Fine.”
1935 Buffalo Nickels in better condition are more common than other dates but are still very scarce. The reason that more 1935 Buffalo Nickels can be found in better condition is due to them not experiencing as much circulation as earlier dates.
1935 Buffalo Nickel Double Die Reverse
One of the most well-known mint errors for the 1935 Buffalo Nickel is the Double Die Reverse (also known as a DDR).
This error occurs when the master hub has part of the design doubled, which then transfers to the main die used to strike the coins. Coins struck with this die then exhibit the doubling. Doubling in considered a major mint error and normally has a much higher premium than other types of errors.
Specifically, the doubling on the 1935 Buffalo Nickel can be found in the phrase “FIVE CENTS.” At the bottom of each letter, there will be a crease or ledge that is visible.
The use of magnification could be useful in helping distinguish whether there is doubling that is present.
The 1935 Buffalo Nickel DDR is a very rare coin with very few examples ever made. If you suspect that you have such an example, be sure to take the coin to a trusted coin dealer for a second opinion. A third-party coin grader can also help identify, grade, and preserve your coin for a fee.
Value of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel
Minted in much greater numbers than most other dates in the series, the 1935 Buffalo Nickel in average condition is not worth a significant amount. In better condition, the coin is worth much more.
Average 1935 Buffalo Nickels in “Good” condition are worth about $1 while those in “Fine” condition are worth about $2. Higher grade examples in “Extra Fine” condition retail for $3.
Uncirculated grades are worth significantly more than lower graded 1935 Buffalo Nickels. MS-60 examples are valued at $21, while MS-63 is worth $35. PCGS values a 1935 Buffalo Nickel in MS-65 condition at $130.
1935 DDR Buffalo Nickels are worth a huge premium over a regular strike. Even in “Fine” condition, these coins command a hefty price tag of $100. “Extra Fine” condition sees the price skyrocket to $775. Only 6 examples of the 1935 DDR Buffalo Nickel have been graded, and are valued at an astonishing $6,500!