The Buffalo nickel, also known as Indian Head nickel, has one of the most interesting coin designs, featuring a realistic image of a Native American on the obverse. As such, this nickel has a great historical value, but that is not the only reason collectors like to own this coin!
Some varieties of the 1923 Buffalo nickel are very rare and, thus, expensive.
If you are a part of the coin-collecting community, you have probably heard about the famous 1932 Buffalo nickel sold for over $30,000! So, let’s check the 1923 Buffalo nickels’ details, varieties, errors, and all other relevant information!
1923 Buffalo Nickel Value Chart
|1923 No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel Value
|1923 S Buffalo Nickel Value
1923 Buffalo Nickel No Mint Mark Value
The 1923 Buffalo nickel belongs to the category Buffalo nickel, which was minted from 1913 to 1938. The Buffalo nickel replaced the Liberty five-cent piece, minted from 1883 to 1912.
This nickel was a part of the U.S. Mint program, the Renaissance of the U.S. coinage that sought to beautify the coin design and incorporate uniquely American elements.
That campaign or program was initiated in 1905 by President Theodore Roosevelt, who was dissatisfied with the lack of artistic expression in American coinage.
The president wanted the hire the popular sculptor Augustus Saint Guadens to redesign several coins. Guadens managed to create two designs, the eagle (a ten-dollar coin) and the double eagle (a twenty-dollar coin) before he died in 1909.
After his death, other sculptors joined in to finish the project, and James Earle Fraser was chosen to design the new five-cent piece.
Although the mint director at the time wanted the new nickel design the feature Abraham Lincoln, the Fraser had already created a design with an Indian and a bison on the obverse. The coining of this nickel did not go without any controversy!
First, there were issues with the nickel design, which showed a mound underneath the buffalo, which affected the quality of the inscription or denomination “FIVE CENTS,” so it was changed to a flat surface.
Furthermore, the dies were wearing out very quickly during production, and the coins were more prone to damage and wear than the previous Liberty nickel. This resulted in several changes, even after the coin was placed into circulation.
As mentioned, this coin was minted for the mandatory 25 years, after which the Jefferson Nickel replaced it.
As noted, the obverse and reverse design was done by James Earle Fraser, and his initial “F” is struck on the reverse, underneath the mint year. The obverse highlights an image of a Native American with braids and feathers in his hair facing right.
Interestingly, Fraser wanted to do his due diligence with this design and based his portrait on several Native Americans, such as Two Moons and Cheyenne.
The date of mintage “1923” is struck on the Native American’s truncated shoulder, while the capitalized inscription “LIBERTY” can be seen on the right side of the coin’s rim. The obverse features the image of a large bison in the coin’s center. The detailed buffalo is seemingly standing on a grass or flat surface.
Alongside the upper rim is the inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” The American motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” is placed above the buffalo on the right side of the coin. The motto translates to “Out of one, many.”
Interestingly, this coin does not have the motto” IN GOD WE TRUST,” which can be found on almost every coin. These coins were produced in San Francisco, Denver, and Philadelphia in three mints, although not each series was minted at all of the three facilities.
The total mintage of the 1923 Buffalo nickel is 41,757,000. The Buffalo nickel was not minted in Denver in 1923, so only two varieties of this coin exist.
The Philadelphia Mint produced 35,715,000 nickels in 1923, while the San Francisco minted a significantly lesser amount, 6,142,000. Although it appears as a silver coin, the Buffalo 1923 nickel is made of 75% copper and 25% nickel. Its face value is $0.05, and the edge is plain.
The coin weighs 5 grams 0.17637 ounces and has a diameter of 21.2 millimeters. The melt value of the 1923 Buffalo nickel is $0.0692.
The buffalo nickels minted in Philadelphia do not have a mint mark. Regarding their value, the 1923 Buffalo nickel is worth around $2 to $3 in good condition, which is not bad for a nickel coin with that grade.
Although the mintage number might seem very high, this nickel was minted 100 years ago, and not many specimens survived to this date, especially in extremely good condition and mint state. Therefore, the 1923 No Mint Mark Buffalo nickels are expensive and very rare in the mint state.
In fine condition, it can cost around $4, while in extra fine, the price is around $12. According to the Professional Coin Grading Service, the 1923 Buffalo No Mint Mark nickel in MS 63 is worth around $100 to $200.
In MS 65, expect to pay between $350 and $650 for the 1932 Buffalo nickel. As noted, the most valuable are the buffalo nickels in high mint state, and this specimen without the mint mark in MS 67 can be worth between $3,500 and $6,500.
1923 S Buffalo Nickel Value
As mentioned, the lowest mintage of the Buffalo nickel in 1923 was in San Francisco- 6,142,000 pieces. The nickels minted in San Francisco have an “S” mint mark, which is located on the obverse, underneath the denomination “FIVE CENTS.”
These have a decent value even in circulated conditions because they are fairly rare, and not many have survived. That said, the rarest and most expensive are pieces in mint state. As you already know, the demand, the mintage number, and the rarity of a certain coin determine its value.
Comparison-wise, the 1923 Buffalo nickels produced in Philadelphia can be found in high mint states, while that job with the 1923 S Buffalo nickel might be a true challenge. The highest reported mint state for this variety is MS 66.
The 1923 S Buffalo nickel in good condition costs around $5, while in fine and extra fine condition, the price ranges between $20 and $130. For the 1923 S Buffalo nickel in MS 63, expect to pay between $900 and $1,600.
If you are confused about the coin grades and mint states, coins are graded on the Sheldon scale, which assigns grades from 1 to 70. The coin with the MS 70 is considered to be perfect. Uncirculated coins are those that have their original condition.
Also, remember that grading can be subjective, and coin collectors and experts often disagree on prices!
In MS 65, the 1923 S Buffalo nickel can cost between $3,000 and $7,000. In MS 66, this variety can fetch a jaw-dropping value, between $7,000 and $40,000.
The auction record for the 1923 S Buffalo nickel in MS 66 is $63,000. The auction took place in 2013 at Heritage Auctions. Another vital factor that affects the value of the coins is the market. For example, most coins are sold in auctions, online sites, or private arrangements.
Some coins can have a great value according to a grading service, but that does not mean you will fetch that amount in an auction. Furthermore, some collectors are willing to pay over the estimated value for a coin, but that does not define its value.
1923 Buffalo Nickels Grading
If you know anything about coins, you are probably familiar with the ever-confusing grading process. Even long-time collectors have problems determining the grade of a coin, which depends on the preservation level, strike quality, luster, details, and other factors.
1923 Buffalo Nickel Rare Error List
The Buffalo nickels are not known to have numerous widely accepted errors. Also, this series of Buffalo nickels have a special variety called two feathers Buffalo nickels, which is essentially a buffalo coin with an error.
So, let’s check those rare errors and the potential value of these coins!
1923 Buffalo Nickel Two-Feather Error
The Two Feather variety of the 1923 Buffalo nickels refers to the lack of a third feather on the obverse. As you know, the coin features a Native American with three feathers in his hair. This variety is highly valuable, and here is how you can tell the difference!
Underneath the second longer feather, you can see the third one slightly peaking. However, this variety does not have a third feather. As noted, this is considered a defect, and there is no concrete reason for this error.
This error is believed to be caused by the over-polished dies, resulting in the polished off of the third feather. Furthermore, the total mintage number of these coins is not known. Depending on the level of preservation, the 1923 Buffalo nickel designated “two feathers” can reach several hundred.
According to some numismatists, the mint state is the most important factor in determining the value.
1923 Buffalo Nickel Ragged End Clip
When a coin has a circular outline interrupted by an irregular edge, that coin has the ragged end clip error. This defect is very easy to spot because the coins appear to be missing some of the outer edges.
Although this error will not significantly boost the price, it will still increase it!
The 1923 S Buffalo nickel-graded AU 58 was sold for over $300, which is a nice amount considering the coin’s grade.
1923 Buffalo Nickel Missing Designer’s Initials Error
As the name implies, the coins with this specific error lack the designer’s initial “F” on the reverse. The initials are under the mintage year on the obverse, and people often mistake it for the mint mark.
So, what is the value of this error? The 1923 S Buffalo nickel graded VF (very fine) with this error was sold for $100. Considering the coin in this grade can cost up to $50, it is a nice price difference!
1923 Buffalo Nickel FAQ
What is the error on a 1923 Buffalo nickel?
The two-feather error is the widely recognized and highly valuable error on the 1923 Buffalo nickel. Interestingly, the reason why this error happens is not known, but there are several specimens with year mint and error.
The two feathers error is an almost all-year buffalo nickel minted from 1913 to 1930. For some reason, the specimens minted after the 1930 Buffalo nickels rarely come with this error.
Is a 1923 buffalo nickel worth anything?
For a copper-nickel coin, the 1923 buffalo nickel has decent value. What makes these coins valuable is the fact that not many of these coins survived to this date in good condition, making the specimens in mint state super rare and valuable.
Where is the mint mark on a 1923 Buffalo nickel?
The mint mark on the 1923 Buffalo nickel is on the reverse underneath the denomination “FIVE CENTS.” People tend to confuse the mint mark with the designer initials “F.” The initials are struck on the obverse under the mintage year.
Also, the Buffalo nickels were minted only in Philadelphia and San Francisco, so it means that you can only find 1923 buffalo nickels with ‘ the “S” mint mark. Philadelphia coins do not have a mint mark.
Should you keep Buffalo nickels?
Yes! If you are very knowledgeable about coins, you might have a valuable buffalo nickel lingering around without knowing it. In lower states, these coins can cost from $2 to $3 dollar, which is not much.
However, certain specimens have been sold for several thousand, meaning that some varieties are super valuable, rare, and expensive.
How can you tell if a Buffalo nickel is rare?
The availability and total mintage number combined with a high mint state can make the Buffalo nickel rare. For example, due to its rarity, the 1926 S Buffalo nickel is always sought-after and desirable.
Why? The San Francisco Mint produced less than a million of these coins, and many did not survive, especially in great condition. The price range for this coin is between $15 and $4,000.