The US Mint produced Buffalo nickels (Indian Head nickels) from 1913 to 1938, and most collectors believe they are at the top of the most collectible American coins in history. However, one specific type of these coins fits no group but is highly collectible.
Even though dateless Buffalo nickels are practically worthless regarding the monetary value, some narrowly specialized collectors consider Buffalo nickel No Date value significant. These coins are not variations or errors but almost entirely worn pieces due to long-lasting circulation.
History of the Buffalo Nickel No Date
The first time I heard about Buffalo nickels No Date, I thought that the US Mint forgot to strike the date on some specimens. However, it was not the case. All these coins had dates on the obverse at one time, but they disappeared after years of excessive handling and heavy circulating.
In such cases, wear is the cause of number erasing, but the primary reason was a flaw in the design. Sculptor James Fraser created a nickel with prominent parts and placed the date near the highest relief on the coin surface. Therefore, it quickly disappeared during everyday use.
Believe it or not, some collectors are specialized in Buffalo nickels without the date. It is pretty strange since these coins are not a particular variation or a rare error but worn-out pieces that spent years in circulation.
These people enjoy revealing the minting year and real value of nickels with No Date. There is always a possibility to find a rare coin minted in San Francisco or a key date worth thousands of dollars.
The question is why this particular coin is so specific when appearing without a date. The reason is the design inappropriate to strike. The date is a part of a raised design part and subjected to rapid wear.
Since it is impossible to grade a coin without the date, you can’t expect to get a numismatic premium for your specimen. On the other hand, you can still get more money than for regular coinage if you can prove that a piece you have was minted in a particular year.
In such a case, the nickels could not reach as high prices as coins with a clearly visible date. However, it would still be worth much more than those produced in years with high mintage.
Features of the Buffalo Nickel No Date
Unlike Buffalo nickels with typical obverse and reverse, worn-out pieces come without the date. It is erased during the years in circulation, making it hard to define their age. Collectors appreciate only those coins without all four digits that categorize minting time.
The obverse of the Buffalo nickel
James E. Fraser created the obverse with a centrally positioned Indian head based on three chiefs, Cheyenne (Two Moons), Seneca (Big John Tree), and Sioux (Iron Tail).
The beautiful design also included LIBERTY, the favorite American word, and the DATE. But wait! The Buffalo nickels No Date don’t contain the year of minting since it was worn out from the Indian’s shoulder over time. In fact, the minting year is there but invisible due to the surface’s wear and tear.
The reverse of the Buffalo nickel
The engraver created the unique reverse after placing the American bison on the new coin. Rumors said that he based the animal look on Black Diamond, a buffalo living in the Central Park Zoo, NY, but there is no official confirmation of this information.
Anyway, you can see E PLURIBUS UNUM in the upper right corner between the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and buffalo’s back. The FIVE CENTS and the mint mark, when they existed, found their place below the mound.
Buffalo nickel (Indian head)
|Face value||Five cents ($0.05)|
|Coin thickness||0.077 inches (1.52 mm)|
|Compound||75% copper with 25% nickel|
|Coin diameter||0.835 inches (21.21 mm)|
|Coin weight||0.176 ounces (5 g)|
Other features of the Buffalo nickel
Buffalo nickel (Indian head) is a round coin of five cents with a plain edge and thickness of 0.077 inches (1.52 mm). The diameter of this copper-nickel coin weighing 0.176 ounces (5 g) is 0.835 inches (21.21 mm).
Buffalo Nickel Value No Date Guides
Even though Buffalo nickels are approximately century-old coins, those without the date have a low numismatic value and rarely cost more than five cents. Basically, such worn-out coins are not collectible at all, but some collectors are intrigued by pieces with No Date for some reason.
Nowadays, there are millions of dateless Buffalo nickels, and even key dates are worthless since you can’t determine whether your coin is one of them or not.
Some collectors purchase dateless nickels, searching for exceptional but forgotten or hidden specimens. After treating them with chemicals, it is possible to check the minting year. Unfortunately, the acid damages the coin surface, making even rare pieces less valuable than those with the visible date on the obverse.
Valuable Buffalo nickels and key dates
|Buffalo nickel||Good/Very good||Fine/Very fine||Extra fine/AU||MS 60/MS 62|
|1916 DDO nickel||$2,500 to $4,500||$8,300 to $12,000||$20,300 to $35,000||$67,000 to $155,500|
|1918 D 8 over 7 nickel||$1,100 to $1,700||$3,000 to $6,000||$9,500 to $13,250||$37,800 to $63,000|
|1918 S nickel||$15 to $30||$60 to $120||$200 to $350||$650 to $3,000|
|1918 D nickel||$20 to $50||$70 to $150||$250 to $400||$500 to $1,150|
|1919 S nickel||$10 to $20||$50 to $150||$300 to $400||$700 to $1,900|
|1919 D nickel||$15 to $30||$80 to $150||$300 to $400||$650 to $1,700|
|1920 S nickel||$5 to $15||$30 to $100||$200 to $350||$600 to $2,000|
|1920 D nickel||$0 to $15||$35 to $130||$300 to $350||$650 to $1,550|
|1921 S nickel||$100 to $135||$200 to $600||$1,000 to $1,300||$1,800 to $2,500|
|1923 S nickel||$10||$30 to $150||$350 to $450||$650 to $1,000|
|1924 S nickel||$20 to $35||$120 to $500||$1,250 to $1,800||$2,500 to $4,000|
|1925 S nickel||$10||$20 to $100||$200 to $300||$500 to $2,000|
|1926 S nickel||$20 to $50||$100 to $400||$1,000 to $3,000||$5,000 to $10,000|
|1927 S nickel||$3||$5 to $35||$100 to $200||$600 to $2,200|
|1935 DDR nickel||$50||$100 to $200||$550 to $1,450||$5,700 to $7,000|
|1936 D 2 1/2 legs nickel||$550 to $950||$1,700 to $2,700||$5,500 to $8,800||$16,000 to $22,000|
|1937 D 3 legs nickel||$600 to $700||$850 to $1,000||$1,300 to $1,600||$2,700 to $5,700|
You can sometimes come across nickels with the partial date on the obverse. Since these coins were minted from 1913 to 1938, finding numbers 1 and 9 means nothing. On the other hand, partially visible two last digits can help you determine what you have in your hand.
In some cases, you can recognize these nickels when slowly tilting them under a specific angle to the light. If identification is impossible, your nickel value will be below the good grade, making such a piece uncollectible.
You can count on 20% of the value of the rare nickels from regular strikes when the last two or three numbers in the date are visible and readable.
In rare cases, a chemical treatment can discover a scarce date, but this procedure is often risky for your coin. Therefore, you should decide about your chances and whether recovery treatment is worth of risk.
How to reveal the date on a buffalo nickel
Sometimes, experts can recover dateless Buffalo nickels and determine lost numbers. A method includes putting a ferric chloride drop on the place where the date is struck.
The product with this chemical is some kind of date restorer, and you can find it under the trade name Nic-A-Date. It helps determine key dates and particularly valuable nickels but is far away from an excellent solution.
The problem is that the ferric chloride leaves ugly acid damage on the coin surface, ruining its appearance. That way, you can date your specimen but get a ruined nickel in the end.
The additional problem is that the minting year fades after a while. You can use the chemical once again, but the date will be less visible every next time, and the acid traces will get bigger and uglier.
Be aware that professional collectors will never trust a date restored this way due to the possibility of fraud. Sometimes, manipulating the applied ferric chloride over the metal surface may create the illusion of a rare coin or key date. Therefore, you should be careful, particularly when it comes to scarce errors.
In some cases, nickels cost more without restored dates. For instance, you should never try to fix partial-date Buffalo nickels because their value decreases after restoring them with chemicals.
Buffalo Nickel No Date Market Analysis
Buffalo nickel prices have been stable for years since their value doesn’t depend on the precious metal market. On the other hand, some rarity and key date prices peaked in 2008 and then declined a bit.
Dateless Buffalo nickels are an entirely different story. Since it is impossible to determine their minting year, it can be challenging to predict their prices on the open market.
Sometimes, people throw away these coins as worthless, unaware they can be collectible and valuable. The truth is that Buffalo nickels without the date are often cheap, but you can notice the increase in their prices over the last couple of decades.
For instance, you could buy a dateless Buffalo nickel for less than 20 cents a few years ago, but you should set aside at least 50 cents now to get one. Some are worth a dollar or even more. It is pretty good for worn-out specimens, isn’t it?
The best of all is that some of these coins can be expensive and cost a few hundred dollars when it is possible to prove it is a key date or collectible variety. Unfortunately, determining such a coin can be challenging.
There is one more way to use these coins, commonly known as Hobo Nickels. Some artists use them to create jewelry and artistic creations, while numerous Americans find it romantic to make shirt buttons of these old pieces.
Finally, many collectors say that they became interested in old coins thanks to nickels used for creating home decorations.
FAQ about the Buffalo Nickel No Date
What makes a Buffalo nickel No Date rare?
The rarest and most valuable Buffalo nickels No Date are those from crucial years and some errors. Unfortunately, it is tricky to determine such pieces without a date restorer, so you can ask for this method when suspecting that you have one such coin.
Which Buffalo nickels are worth a lot of money?
- One collector paid $350,750 for the 1918/7 D MS 65 Buffalo nickel at Bowers & Merena in 2006
- One collector paid $322,000 for the 1926 S MS 66 Buffalo nickel at Bowers & Merena in 2008
- One collector paid $281,750 for the 1916 DDO MS 64 Buffalo nickel at Bowers & Merena in 2004
- One collector paid $143,750 for the 1913 D Type 2 MS 68 Buffalo nickel at Bowers & Merena in 2008
- One collector paid $138,000 for the 1917 S MS 67 Buffalo nickel at Heritage Auctions in 2008
- One collector paid $138,000 for the 1920 D MS 67 Buffalo nickel at Bowers & Merena in 2008
- One collector paid $125,350 for the 1918 S MS 66 Buffalo nickel at Bowers & Merena in 2008
How much is the Buffalo nickel No Date worth?
Since Buffalo nickels without the date are not a particular error or variation, it is hard to determine their value. In most cases, these badly worn-out coins are typically worthless, but that doesn’t diminish their collectability. In fact, some collectors consider these nickels priceless pieces of American coinage history.
What is the most pricey Buffalo nickel No Date?
There is no evidence about the most expensive Buffalo nickels without the date since most are without material value. However, some dateless error Buffalo nickels can be worth, and one is estimated to be $750.