The Buffalo nickel, so named due to the absence of a date on the coin, is one of the most valuable coins. This is due to the fact that the dates have been worn off after years of circulation. To identify this coin and determine its worth, it is important to understand what the name implies. This article will provide an explanation of the name and how to identify the coin without a date.
1. Why Did the Date Wear Off?
The absence of a date on a Buffalo Nickel can significantly reduce its numismatic value, as it has been in circulation for many decades. As the date is located on a raised section of the design, it is often the first area to show signs of wear, making it difficult to determine the coin’s age.
As such, collectors must be able to identify the date in order to accurately assess the worth of a Buffalo Nickel with no date.
Due to their use in jewelry, buttons, and other items, Buffalo nickels are now only worth around six cents each. The US Mint did not forget to include the date on some of these coins; however, circulation and wear caused the numerals to fade over time, resulting in dateless coins that still had an apparent date.
In 1913, the United States Mint issued the first Buffalo Nickels, featuring the denomination of FIVE CENTS below the buffalo on the reverse. However, midway through the year, James Earl Fraser altered his design to place this feature below the coin’s rim in order to prevent the writing from fading away.
The wide circulation of nickels, due to their low value, caused the characteristics of these coins to fade more quickly than those of higher denominations. This has made the nickel a highly sought-after item among collectors, as it has a unique history that makes it particularly valuable.
2. What Does the “F” Mean?
The “F” on Indian Head nickels with no date is an abbreviation for the designer’s surname, James Earl Fraser. This letter is present on all Buffalo nickels, regardless of the mint plant where it was produced.
In 1911, James Earle Fraser was commissioned to create a new pattern for the nickel. After exploring a variety of themes and designs, he settled on a design featuring Abraham Lincoln. Additionally, Fraser included depictions of a Native American and a buffalo. Unfortunately, the manufacturing
process was delayed due to concerns from the manufacturer of a vending machine.
Fraser’s depiction of the Native American is featured on the front of the coin. This conceptual image portrays three men: Fraser, Cheyenne Chief Two Moons, and Lakota Sioux Chief Iron Tail.
The mint mark on the back (“tails”) side of the Buffalo nickel can be found behind the inscription “FIVE CENTS”. Coins produced by the Philadelphia mint do not have a mint mark. The letter “D” symbolizes the Denver mint, while the letter “S” stands for San Francisco. When purchasing a rare Buffalo nickel, it is important to ensure its authenticity by carefully examining it.
3. Recovering the Date
The application of a drop of ferric chloride is a feasible method for recovering the date on a Buffalo Nickel No Date. Additionally, the renowned date restorative, Nic-A-Date, can be used to restore the coin’s date.
Any collector will agree that cleaning, chemical, or any other type of treatment to a coin will damage it and reduce its value. However, in the case of a dateless Buffalo nickel, the use of acid may reveal an uncommon variety, thus making it a useful tool to uncover the coin’s value.
Professional coin collectors will not accept coins with dates that have been repaired using ferric chloride, as this alters the metal and could be
used to create the illusion of a rare date Buffalo nickel. Therefore, it is important to be wary of any coin purchase based on a restored date.
It is not recommended to use chemicals to restore partial dates on nickels, as they are more valuable than dateless nickels. The value of a buffalo nickel without a date varies depending on the digits that are visible, ranging from 50 cents to approximately 20% of market value.
4. How It’s Identifiable Without the Date
The Buffalo nickel, featuring a buffalo on its reverse side, was first issued by the United States Mint in 1913. Beneath the buffalo was the denomination “FIVE CENTS,” which, however, began to fade away unexpectedly. This has made the coin a unique and sought-after item among collectors.
Few numismatists possess expertise in no-date Buffalo nickels, which, despite being heavily circulated, remain valuable and costly. These coins are not a distinct variety, but rather widely distributed.
In 1913, the Mint undertook a renovation of the coin’s pattern, which included altering the dirt mound of the buffalo to make the denomination “FIVE CENTS” visible. This alteration addressed the issue of the date quickly fading.
The 2001 Commemorative Silver Dollar featured a design roughly three times the size of the Buffalo Nickel. This design can also be found on the American Buffalo gold coin. Despite the fact that the last examples of Fraser’s iconic coin were produced decades ago, collectors still ardently assemble collections of them.
The Buffalo Nickel No Date has become a highly sought-after coin due to its historical significance. As the coin has been heavily circulated for many years, it has become a valuable item for collectors. To ensure authenticity, it is important to carefully inspect the coin before purchase.
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