Table of Contents
- 1923 Buffalo nickel value Chart
- History of the 1923 Buffalo Nickel
- 1923 Buffalo nickel Types
- Features of the 1923 Buffalo Nickel
- 1923 Buffalo Nickel Value Guides
- 1923 Buffalo No Mint Mark nickel Value
- 1923 S Buffalo nickel Value
- 1923 Buffalo Nickel Grading
- Rare 1923 Buffalo Nickel Errors List
- FAQ about the 1923 Buffalo Nickel Value
The US Mint minted Buffalo nickels in the period from 1913 to 1938, and they are now among the most collectible American coins with fascinating designs. You can also find them under the name Indian Head nickels because the obverse design is a tribute to the Native Americans inhabiting the United States.
In 1923, the Buffalo nickels came from two mints with a total mintage of just under 42,000,000. However, one mint produced a significantly lower mintage, making them rare today. Therefore, the mint mark is the most significant influence on the 1923 Buffalo nickel value, besides preservation.
1923 Buffalo nickel value Chart
|Condition||1923 nickel||1923 S nickel|
History of the 1923 Buffalo Nickel
Buffalo nickels had a short minting period, and the US Mint minted 1,212,995,919 pieces from 1913 to 1938. At that time, there was a renaissance of American coinage.
In 1904, President Roosevelt concluded that all American coinage designs needed an artistic character. Therefore, he ordered the US Mint to hire the famous artist, sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens, to re-design the appearance of as many coin types as possible.
Unfortunately, the esteemed artist passed away when the Liberty Head nickel met the legal opportunity for change. The task of re-designing the nickel appearance fell to James Fraser, the US Mint engraver.
He decided to pay tribute to Native American heritage with his new nickel design. Therefore, the obverse showed the Indian head, based on the portraits of the three chiefs from the Cheyenne, Seneca, and Sioux tribes.
1923 Buffalo nickel Types
|San Francisco||1923 S nickel||6,142,000|
The first unofficial appearance of these coins was at the groundbreaking ceremony for the National American Indian Memorial. Then-President Taft gave forty new coins to the Indian chiefs who attended the ceremony, but that was it. The monument was never built.
Also read: Top 10 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money
Features of the 1923 Buffalo Nickel
The US Mint issued Buffalo nickels for only 25 years. Due to the expressive details, these coins’ design was a demanding challenge for minting and led to pronounced wear of the coins. Therefore, finding well-preserved 1923 Buffalo nickels with clearly visible details can be challenging.
The obverse of the 1923 Buffalo nickel
The nickel obverse shows a bust of an Indian chief facing right, but it is not the portrait of an actual person. Fraser based the character on three chiefs from different tribes with emphasized details, like cheekbones, hair texture, and feathers in a headdress.
You can see the word LIBERTY on the right rim ahead of the chief’s face. In the lower-left corner, on the Indian’s shoulder, are the minting date and the designer’s initials.
The reverse of the 1923 Buffalo nickel
The coin reverse shows the image of an American buffalo standing calm on a mound. Although there is no official confirmation, there is an assumption that Fraser’s model was Black Diamond. It was the favorite animal from the Central Park Zoo.
On the reverse, you can also see standard inscriptions. On the upper rim is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, while you can read the saying E PLURIBUS UNUM below it on the right side. There is also the FIVE CENT denomination on the lower rim and the mint mark on pieces from San Francisco.
1923 Buffalo nickel Details
|Face value||Five cents ($0.05)|
|Compound||75% copper and 25% nickel|
|Coin diameter||0.83465 inches (21.2 millimeters)|
|Coin weight||0.17637 oz (5 g)|
|Coin thickness||0.07677 inches (1.95 millimeters)|
Other features of the 1923 Buffalo nickel
The Buffalo nickel from 1923 is a round-shaped coin whose greater part of 75% consists of copper. The remaining part of 25% is nickel.
These plain edge pieces weigh 0.17637 oz (5 grams). Their thickness of 0.07677 inches (1.95 millimeters) and diameter of 0.83465 inches (21.2 millimeters) are standard for nickels of the period.
1923 Buffalo Nickel Value Guides
The US Mint produced 41,857,000 Buffalo nickels in 1923, which was a pretty insignificant mintage, considering that it didn’t issue any of these coins in 1922. Besides, the 1921 mintage of about 12 million was also low for this coin type.
1923 Buffalo No Mint Mark nickel Value
The Philadelphia mint issued most of the Buffalo nickels’ total mintage this year. As many as 35,715,000 of these coins came without the mint mark, making it easier to determine their origin.
Since the US Mint had not minted any nickels the previous year, the complete 1923 mintage was released into circulation. Consequently, most pieces show numerous signs of wear and tear nowadays.
Interestingly, that doesn’t particularly affect the 1923 Buffalo nickel value. Even specimens in poor condition are worth more than their face value, and you can buy them for $0.65 to $0.78.
Depending on the preservation levels, those in grades between GOOD and AU cost $1.25 to $48. Be aware that the 1923 Buffalo nickels in the mint state are challenging to find on the market, making them costly. The expected prices can be the following:
- $55 to $66 for MS 60-graded nickels
- $68 to $81.6 for MS 61-graded nickels
- $85 to $102 for MS 62-graded nickels
- $140 to $168 for MS 63-graded nickels
- $190 to $228 for MS 64-graded nickels
- $375 to $450 for MS 65-graded nickels
- $680 to $816 for MS 66-graded nickels
- $4,800 to $6,000 for MS 67-graded nickels
However, the most expensive of these coins is the 1923 MS 67 nickel that reached an exceptional price at auction in 2003. It sold for as much as $18,400.
1923 S Buffalo nickel Value
Of the nearly 42 million Buffalo nickels minted in 1923, the San Francisco mint struck only 6,142,000 pieces. All these specimens bear the letter S on the obverse as the mark of this mint.
Such a low mintage made these coins rare in the current market. That is why some of these specimens can cost from $2.5 to $3, even in bad condition. As the rating increases, so does the coins’ value. You should set aside $5 to as much as $510 for those graded between GOOD and AU.
The 1923 S nickel value in the mint state varies considerably. After so many years, it is difficult to find perfectly preserved specimens, and you can expect their prices to be significantly higher.
- The 1923 S MS 60-ranked nickels cost $460 to $552
- The 1923 S MS 61-ranked nickels cost $500 to $600
- The 1923 S MS 62-ranked nickels cost $600 to $720
- The 1923 S MS 63-ranked nickels cost $870 to $1,044
- The 1923 S MS 64-ranked nickels cost $1,200 to $1,440
- The 1923 S MS 65-ranked nickels cost $3,900 to $4,680
Be aware that MS 66-graded coins are assessed at an incredible $34,000 to $40,800, making them genuine pearls. Still, a collector paid an incredible $67,563 for one nickel in this grade at an auction in 2013, making it the highest-priced in the set.
1923 Buffalo Nickel Grading
If the opportunity arises to add the 1923 Buffalo nickel to your collection, it is natural to be interested in the coin’s condition. Grading is the best way to assess each piece’s preservation level.
In most cases, it is better to leave this process to professional evaluators, particularly when you have a valuable nickel. They use the established grading standards, which rely on numismatist William Sheldon’s scale.
Rare 1923 Buffalo Nickel Errors List
Errors on coins are a frequent occurrence. However, for collectors to accept such an irregularity, it must occur during production. Coins with such imperfections are often significantly more expensive than regular pieces.
The reason for this is that some collectors prefer only imperfect specimens. The most famous error in Buffalo nickels from 1923 is the Two Feathers, while other imperfections are sporadic.
This error type is usual for the Buffalo nickel series, and you can also find it on coins from 1923. The regular obverse design shows the Indian chief head with three traditional feathers in his hair, but some pieces came with only two visible feathers.
In this case, a feather next to the Indian’s neck, below the longest feather, is missing. There is no explanation for the reasons that led to this imperfection. Most numismatists believe it results from excessive die polishing, leading to a third feather disappearing.
Interestingly, collectors show little interest in collecting nickels with this error on the obverse. Therefore, their value is relatively low and mostly depends on each specimen’s condition.
Sometimes, it can happen that the planchet moves during minting. The result is an incomplete design imprint, with a coin piece along the rim remaining blank. The design lack can be from 1% to 99%.
The significance and value of coins with such an error depend on the design visibility and the date and mint mark existence. You can buy the 1923 Buffalo nickels with this imperfection for $360 to $500, depending primarily on the error size and visibility of crucial information.
Ragged end clip error
You can recognize this error in coins whose circular outline is interrupted in one part by an irregular edge. It is very easy to see because the specimens are missing a part of the outer rim. The 1923 Buffalo nickels with this imperfection can cost between $20 and $300.
Coins with this error have a surface that cracks and peels off. They usually occur when contaminants appear in the alloy, causing the metal to separate before or after minting. The Buffalo nickels from 1923 with this error are estimated at $150 to $230.
1923 Buffalo nickel with missing designer’s initials
The Buffalo nickels obverse includes the designers’ initials below the minting year. Coins without the letter F in the design have increased value and can cost up to $270.
Also read: 14 Most Valuable Nickel Errors Worth Money
FAQ about the 1923 Buffalo Nickel Value
What makes a 1923 Buffalo nickel rare?
The 1923 Buffalo nickels are a hundred years old, with a relatively low circulation of just under 42 million struck pieces. Besides, their design was prone to wear. Considering all this, the expectation that you can effortlessly come across these examples in perfect condition is quite unrealistic.
Which 1923 Buffalo nickel is worth a lot of money?
- The 1923 S MS 66 Buffalo nickel was purchased for $67,563 in 2013
- The 1923 MS 67 Buffalo nickel was purchased for $18,400 in 2003
How much are the 1923 (Philadelphia) Buffalo nickels worth?
Philadelphia minted close to 36 million Buffalo nickels in 1923, making up a large part of the year’s mintage. Since the US Mint didn’t issue proof coins then, it released all minted specimens into circulation.
Since these coins are part of a series from an earlier period, even those in bad condition are worth more than their face value. You can buy them for about $0.65. Specimens in the mint state can cost significantly more, from $55 to $6,000, depending on their grade.
What is the priciest Buffalo nickel?
The US Mint minted Buffalo nickels for only 25 years, with a total mintage of over a billion coins. Their average age is about 100 years, so finding well-preserved pieces is difficult. Expectedly, that significantly affects the value that nickels achieve at auctions.
The most expensive Buffalo nickel is the 1918/7 D MS 65 error piece, which sold at an incredible $350,750 in 2006. The 1926 S MS 66 nickel changed hands in 2008 for a slightly lower price of $322,000. They are followed by:
- The 1916 MS 64 nickel with DDO error, priced at $281,750 in 2004
- The 1913 D MS 68 nickel Type 2, priced at $143,750 in 2008
- The 1917 S MS 67 and 1920 D MS 67 nickels, priced at $138,000 in 2008
- The 1918 S MS 66 nickel, priced at $125,350 in 2008
- The 1924 S MS 66+ nickel, priced at $105,750 in 2016
- The 1935 MS 65 nickel with DDR error, priced at $104,650 in 2007