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1930 Buffalo Nickel Value Guides (Rare Errors, “S” & No Mint Mark)

1930 Buffalo Nickel Value Guides (Rare Errors, “S” & No Mint Mark)

Do you have a buffalo nickel from 1930 in your collection? If so you may be scouring the internet for information about the 1930 buffalo nickel value.

This coin is a valuable one with a lot of history behind it. While the buffalo nickel was minted way back in the early 1930s, it has become increasingly popular among collectors in recent years. There are several interesting features on the reverse and obverse of this coin that make it unique, as well as the story behind it.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the 1930 buffalo nickel value and some of its unique features. Ready? Let’s get started!

1930 Buffalo Nickel Value Chart

Mint Mark Good Fine Extremely Fine Uncirculated
1930 No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel $1.42 $2.81 $14 $39-$83
1906 S Buffalo Nickel $1.42 $2.81 $16 $74-$135

History of the 1930 Buffalo Nickel

The buffalo nickel, which is also known as the Indian head nickel, is an American five-cent piece that was minted from 1913 to 1938. It was the third regular issue of the five-cent denomination in America and the only nickel to bear a Native American on its face. The coin was designed by James Earle Fraser and is thought to be one of the most attractive coins ever produced by the United States Mint.

The “near mint” condition 1930 buffalo nickel has become a sought-after collectible due to its history and relative scarcity. While it is a fairly common coin to find in circulation, it is relatively hard to come by an uncirculated version of this coin compared with some other older coins. Higher grades of preservation are worth more as prized collector items than lower grades today.

On the face of the 1930 buffalo nickel is a profile portrait of an American Indian wearing a feathered headdress. The reverse side features a buffalo standing on a raised mound. Both sides feature plenty of intricate detail throughout, making it a truly striking coin design.

We will discuss each side of the coin in more detail later in this article, but for now, it is interesting to note that the artist grew up in South Dakota during the era of history when the buffalo (which are actually American Bison) roamed the Great Plains, and he headed for art school the same year that the Battle of Wounded Knee occurred in his home state. It’s possible that growing up in this environment influenced his decision to design this nickel in this format.

There is some mystery surrounding the model on the coin’s obverse. Some believe it to be based on the likeness of Iron Tail, an elder chief of the Ogalala Lakota who had previously been photographed by Gertrude Käsebier, who, like Fraser, spent her childhood in the Dakotas. Others believe it is a conglomeration of images rather than one portrait.

One Seneca man named John Big Tree even claimed it was him and made public appearances as the model on the buffalo nickel until his death in the 1960s. The world might never fully know.

Features of the 1930 Buffalo Nickel

As we mentioned, the buffalo nickel is considered to be one of the most attractive coins ever produced by the United States Mint. The 1930 buffalo nickel has several features that make it an interesting piece of numismatic history. Let’s look at its obverse design, reverse design, metal composition, mint mark locations, and its size and weight.

The Obverse of the 1930 Buffalo Nickel

The Obverse of the 1930 Buffalo Nickel

Credit: NGC

The obverse (also known as the front) of the 1930 buffalo nickel features a profile portrait of a Native American chief wearing three feathers in his hair and facing left. His hair is divided into two long braids.

Above and to the right of the portrait is the word “LIBERTY”, and in the bottom left, in the 7 o’clock position, is the date: 1930. Below the date is a tiny F, signifying that James Earle Fraser was the artist.

The Reverse of the 1930 Buffalo Nickel

The Reverse of the 1930 Buffalo Nickel

Credit: NGC

The reverse (also known as the back) of the 1930 buffalo nickel features a buffalo standing on a small mound. The word “FIVE CENTS” is written at the bottom, underneath the mound, and the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” are written around the upper edge. Below this, there is the phrase, “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” which means “Out of Many, One.”

At the very bottom of the coin is the mint mark, if any.

Other Features of the 1930 Buffalo Nickel

Now that we have discussed the obverse and reverse of the 1930 buffalo nickel, let’s look at some other features of this coin.

The Metal Composition

The 1930 buffalo nickel is composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel.

The Mint Mark Location

On the reverse side of the 1930 buffalo nickel, in the center near the bottom, is a small letter that indicates at which mint the coin was struck. If there is no letter present, the coin was struck at Philadelphia. Coins with an S were produced at the San Francisco Mint.

Size and Weight

It has a diameter of 21.2 millimeters and a mass of 5 grams.

Value of the 1930 Buffalo Nickel

The value of a 1930 buffalo nickel can vary greatly depending on the condition of the coin and its particular mint mark. The conditions that coins can be graded at are Good, Fine, Extremely Fine, and Uncirculated.

Generally speaking, coins in Good condition are worth the least amount of money while Uncirculated coins are worth the most – and it’s very difficult to find Uncirculated buffalo nickels these days, due to their age and popularity in circulation back when they were produced.

Additionally, there are some rare error coins that

Let’s look at the range of values for 1930 buffalo nickels in various conditions, categorizing them by mint location:

1930 “No Mint Mark” Buffalo Nickel

The 1930 buffalo nickel without a mint mark means that it was minted at the US Mint location in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1930, only 22,849,000 of these buffalo nickels were minted here.

If you find one that is in Good condition, it could be worth around $1.42. In Fine condition, it could be worth up to $2.81, and in Extremely Fine condition, it might be worth up to $14. If your 1930 buffalo nickel is in Uncirculated condition, the value can go from about $39 all the way up to $83 or more.

One even went for $7,000 recently because of its nearly perfect Uncirculated condition. Not bad!

1930 “S” Buffalo Nickel

1930 "S" Buffalo Nickel

Credit: USA Coin Cook

The 1930 “S” buffalo nickel was minted in San Francisco, California and only 5,435,000 were minted. The 1930 “S” buffalo nickel is the rarer of all the buffalo nickels and can be worth much more than its counterparts from Philadelphia, especially in higher grades.

In Good condition it could be worth up to $1.42 or more and in Fine condition up to $2.81 or more. If your 1930 “S” buffalo nickel is in Extremely Fine condition it could be worth up to $16, and if it is in Uncirculated condition, the value can reach from $74 up to $135 or more!

Impressively, one of these coins (at an Uncirculated grade) sold at auction for a whopping $30,000! Hard to imagine, but it is true! It’s very rare to find these coins in such impeccable condition.

1930 “Proof” Buffalo Nickel

A Proof coin is a specially made coin that has a deep and mirrored finish. Proof coins were produced primarily for collectors and were usually not released into circulation.

You may be wondering if there were any Proof coins made of the 1930 buffalo nickel. Well, the answer is no. The earliest years of buffalo nickels did have Proofs made, but after 1916, no more proofs were made for about twenty years.

Production of Proof coins was again resumed in 1936, which is six years after the 1930 buffalo nickel was minted. Therefore, there are no 1930 buffalo nickel proofs.

1930 Buffalo Nickel Error Coins

Finally, the 1930 buffalo nickel is also notable for certain errors that were made during production (some that are extremely rare!). Let’s take a closer deep dive into what errors are known to exist in the buffalo nickel and what these coins have sold for at auction recently.

1930 Buffalo Nickel with Double Die Obverse Error

One important error found on a 1930 buffalo nickel is the “Double Die Obverse,” which happens when the dies that strike the coin are not in perfect alignment. This results in the top part of the coin having a doubled image, which is quite noticeable on close inspection with a coin magnifying glass.

Recently, one of these error coins in Fine condition sold for about $95! It would have sold for more if the condition had been better, but $95 for a nickel is still nothing to joke about.

1930 Buffalo Nickel with Double Die Reverse Error

1930 Buffalo Nickel with Double Die Reverse Error

Credit: eBay

Another interesting error that is found on 1930 buffalo nickels is the “Double Die Reverse,” which happens when the reverse die creates a doubled image on the coin. You can see this error especially on the legs of the buffalo.

One such error coin, which had a Very Fine mint grade, sold for $235 at auction! That is impressive enough, but with a nearly perfect mint grade, another 1930 buffalo nickel with the same error sold at an auction for over $6,000! Sometimes the condition of the coin makes all the difference!

1930 Buffalo Nickel with Two Feathers Error

Credit: eBay

1930 Buffalo Nickel with Two Feathers Error

Finally, one of the most interesting and valuable errors on the 1930 buffalo nickel is the “two feathers” error. This occurred at the San Francisco Mint when one of the feathers on the Native American’s head was shaved down during a polishing process, creating two variations of the coin – one with three feathers and one with only two.

An “S” coin with these errors, graded at a very low mint grade, still sold for over $200 at auction, which is really good for a low grade.

Frequently Asked Questions about 1930 Buffalo Nickel Coins

Now that we have explored the different types of 1930 buffalo nickel coins, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about these coins.

Should I Clean My 1930 Buffalo Nickel Coin Before Getting it Professionally Graded?

The answer is a resounding no. It is generally not recommended to clean coins before submitting them for grading, as this will decrease the value of the coin. If you must clean your 1930 buffalo nickel coin, be sure to check with a professional first and do your due diligence in researching the best way to go about the cleaning process.

Are There Any Online Resources That Can Help Me Determine the Value of My 1930 Buffalo Nickel?

Yes! There are many online resources that can help you determine the value of your 1930 buffalo nickel. One great resource is PCGS Price Guide, which provides up-to-date pricing information on coins from all different eras and conditions.

Where Can I Find and Purchase a 1930 Buffalo Nickel?

The best place to find and purchase a 1930 buffalo nickel is through an online coin dealer. Many of these dealers specialize in rare coins, and they will be able to help you find exactly what you are looking for. However, you can also look for 1930 buffalo nickels at local coin shows and auctions – even online auction sites like eBay or online marketplaces such as Etsy.

No matter where you go, though, be sure to do your research before making any purchases!

What is a 1930 Buffalo Nickel Proof?

A Proof coin is a coin that is made very special, and it’s saved back from business circulation so that coin collectors may have them. Unfortunately, no Proof coins were made for the 1930 buffalo nickels as production of these coins was only resumed in 1936. Therefore, there are no 1930 buffalo nickel proofs.

Conclusion

The 1930 Buffalo Nickel is an attractive coin that can be quite valuable in certain conditions, some coins selling for thousands of dollars. Whether you find one with a mint mark or without, make sure you carefully check it for errors and note its grade before selling or purchasing it. With the right information, you can find yourself a great deal on a 1930 buffalo nickel. Good luck!

Do you have one of these fabulous coins in your possession? Let us know about it in the comments below.