Struck between 1913 and 1938, the buffalo nickel is easily one of the most beloved coins ever made.
Also known as the Indian head nickel, these coins have a rich history in America, proving equally popular and controversial at the time of release.
One of the most interesting years to collect is the 1929 buffalo nickel, known to sell at auction for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. That’s if they are in pristine condition.
This article will explore everything about the 1929 buffalo nickel value and its potential at auction. To do this, we will explain the different varieties you might find in circulation and highlight what errors and features to watch out for.
1929 buffalo nickel value chart
|1929 no mint Buffalo Nickel value||$1.46||$17||Up to $411||Up to $63,250|
|1929 D Buffalo Nickel Value||$1.46||$40||Up to $920||Up to $15,275|
|1929 S Buffalo Nickel Value||$1.46||$14||Up to $555||Up to $36,000|
1929 No Mint Buffalo Nickel value
1929 no mint buffalo nickel coin is easily the most common coin found today from that era, with a high production record of over 36,446,000. It can be traced back to Philadelphia, as it was the only mint that never used mint marks.
Like the other coins in the series, the 1929 no mint buffalo nickel featured the designs of American sculptor James Earle Fraser. The obverse depicts a Native American chieftain with detailed feathers, the coin’s date, and the word ‘Liberty.’ The letter ‘F’ is the initial used to identify Fraser.
Fraser also designed the reverse, which depicted an American bison on flat ground, with the Latin motto ‘e pluribus unum’ (Out of many, one) and the text ‘Five Cents’ featured.
Since its first release in 19013, until its retirement in 1938, the buffalo nickel remained a popular coin with Americans, who loved its design and symbolism. But the series was quite controversial, too.
Firstly, the coins tarnished quite quickly, and the designs of both chieftain and bison became worn within years of circulation. This makes finding buffalo nickels in high condition increasingly tricky nowadays.
Despite their name, 1929 no mint buffalo nickel was primarily made of 75% copper and only 25% nickel. The high copper composition meant the 5-cent coin was quite costly and had a higher melting value of $0.063. The quarter nickel gave the coin, its signature “shimmer” effect.
A litany of production problems haunted the buffalo nickel, including the 1929 no mint variation. The US Mint often re-melted and re-struck the coins to help improve and maintain a healthy supply.
But to add further problems, US mints noted that the buffalo nickel broke production dies “three times as fast” as previous nickel designs, adding additional cost and frustration to coin production.
Another controversy surrounded the buffalo nickel – counterfeiting. Because it had smooth edges, it was easy for people to take filings from it to reproduce coins. And although it had a standard diameter of 21.21mm and a thickness of 1.95mm, counterfeiting coin machines found it challenging to detect them.
Fraser issued several redesigns of the buffalo nickel, including the feathers of the chieftain’s headdress and the ground on which the buffalo stood, to help alleviate problems.
Because of this high production, 1929 no mint buffalo nickels frequently appear at auction. An average or fine coin can fetch between $1.46 to $17. But because of the rapid deterioration of the coin, finding these coins in a high mint state is increasingly rare.
According to market data from coin auction site PCGS, 1929 no mint buffalo nickels of MS65+ can fetch upwards of $411 at auction. But like any collectible, some rare coins can break all expectations.
This 1929 no mint buffalo nickel sold for $63,250 in 2005. This unprecedented number is due to the coin’s “proof-like” condition, which wasn’t the norm for coins of that era. At MS67, the coin has incredible detail, definition, and an exquisite frosted surface.
1929 D Buffalo Nickel Value
Denver produced the second-largest number of 1929 buffalo nickels, at just over 8,370,000. You can quickly identify these coins by Denver’s signature ‘D’ mint mark at the bottom of the coin’s reverse side.
Like other nickels of that era, the 1929 D buffalo nickel was made of 75% copper and the remainder of nickel. Coins quickly became worn in circulation and are considered scarce in high-mint states.
Because the production number was drastically lower than in Philadelphia, 1929 D buffalo nickels are considered much more valuable at auction.
Additionally, experts have noted that the 1929 D buffalo nickel had a high-quality strike used that year. It is generally seen as the superior variation across most grades. Unsurprisingly, an extremely fine coin can fetch as high as $40+ at auction.
This increased value translates into higher mint states too. According to PCGS, at MS65 and higher, a 1929 D buffalo nickel can be worth several thousand dollars, depending on its features.
The highest recorded auction for a 1929 D buffalo nickel was $15,275 in 2014. The auction describes the coin as having a sharp strike, rich luster, and free from marks or blemishes.
1929 S Buffalo Nickel Value
The final variety of buffalo nickel comes from the San Francisco mint. You can quickly identify these coins by the signature ‘S’ mint mark.
Only 7,754,000 nickels were struck here, making it relatively uncommon today. That said, the coin isn’t that valuable at auction compared to other variations struck in 1929.
The only thing hindering the 1929 S buffalo nickel is its original quality. Many experts have said that the nickels produced here have a “mushy” look that makes them unappealing and have a ‘greyish’ luster that wasn’t deemed attractive.
Couple this with the nickel’s already poor reputation for wearing quickly, and the 1929 S buffalo nickel has become the least popular variation of the time. This reputation carries on to today’s market.
As such, the coins will only fetch similar amounts of between $1.46 to $14 in excellent condition, which can be disappointing for collectors who have happened upon otherwise rare coins.
Even in MS65 grades, 1929 S buffalo nickels will only sell for $500 or so at most. This is considered relatively low for that mint state, especially when considering the low production record of the coins.
The good news is that the coin shines at higher tiers. A 1929 S buffalo nickel sold for an enormous $36,000 in 2021. It is said to have had sharp details despite its mintage, gold, and lilac tones and “impeccably preserved” surfaces, very uncommon for buffalo nickels.
1929 buffalo nickel Grading
You will only learn your 1929 buffalo nickel’s actual value and potential by grading it. Many collectors follow the Sheldon coin grading system, which has 70 points that measure a coin according to detail, condition, and strike.
Rare 1929 Buffalo Nickel Error List
Although people often think an error or fault can harm the value of an item, the opposite is true for coins. Mistakes can make a generic buffalo nickel into a premium collectible.
Below are some common errors that might feature on your 1929 buffalo nickel:
1929 Buffalo Nickel Off-center error
An off-center error happens when the stamp and the coin are not correctly aligned. The coin’s design is struck at an angle and can be distorted or cropped from the coin entirely.
While many people think this error can make the coin worthless, the opposite is, in fact, true. Collectors measure this error in percentages, with higher instances of off-centering worth considerably more. To illustrate this point, below are two examples of a 1929 buffalo nickel with off-center errors.
This 1929 no mint buffalo nickel has a reported 20% off-center error, with part of the Chieftain and Buffalo missing from the coin. It sold for $977 in 2006. However, this 1929 buffalo nickel has 40% off-centering, with most of the obverse and reverse sides distorted. It sold for a premium of $2,587 in 2008.
1929 Buffalo Nickel Struck on the wrong coin
Because US mints produced a series of different coins, it was common for designs to be struck on the wrong-sized coin and entered into circulation.
The value of this error ultimately depends on the type of coin used and its condition. To tell if you have one of these coins, compare your 1929 buffalo nickel to the precise measurements of the coin’s diameter (21.2 mm) and weight (5 grams).
This 1929 buffalo nickel was struck on a cent coin and sold for an impressive $9,775 in 2006. The coin has a heavily distorted design, missing a mint mark, adding further intrigue to the auction.
1929 Buffalo Nickel with clipping error
Clipping errors are widespread across all coins. It occurs when a coin is struck on a damaged planchet, resulting in part of the coin breaking off. Sometimes, the error can be straight, curved, or irregular in shape.
Like off-centers, this error is measured in percentages, with more pronounced and extreme clipping fetching a higher price at auction.
This 1929 no mint buffalo nickel has a small 5% curved clip, which makes it worth up to $168. Straight clip errors are usually worth more at auction. This 1929 no mint buffalo nickel has two pronounced clips, increasing its value to $258.
1929 Buffalo Nickel Double Die Error
A double die error is when the buffalo nickel stays in place after being struck and is mistakenly struck again. The result can range from more prominent features, especially around high points of the coin like the text and chieftain’s face, or it can heavily distort the entire coin’s design.
This 1929 no mint buffalo nickel has a pronounced double die error that makes the coin’s text incredibly well-defined; it sold for $780 in 2018.
1929 Buffalo Nickel FAQ
Is the 1929 buffalo nickel rare?
The value of your coin will ultimately depend on its condition and preservation. Because 1929 buffalo nickels quickly became worn and tarnished, a high-mint coin is considered quite rare by today’s standards. Average buffalo nickels in good or fine condition will only sell for modest sums of between $1 and $40.
Which is rarer, a 1929 no mint, D or S buffalo nickel?
Generally speaking, the 1929 D buffalo nickel is typically seen as the rarest. That’s because it has low production records but has a reputation for being well-made.
Despite fewer 1929 S buffalo nickels in circulation, experts at PCGS have noted that these coins have an unattractive “mushy” appearance that ultimately detracts from their appeal.
What is the 1929 buffalo nickel made from?
Contrary to its name, the 1929 buffalo nickel is primarily made of 75% copper, with the remaining 25% of nickel. The nickel is what gives the coin its signature shimmer. The high copper content gives the coin an average melting value of $0.0635.
Is the buffalo nickel a popular coin to collect?
The buffalo nickel is considered one of US history’s most popular series of coins. But initially, it was incredibly problematic. The coins quickly wore out and were easy to counterfeit.
As such, they had quite an unpopular reputation in 1929, and the US Mint decided to redesign them at their earliest opportunity.
What is the highest recorded sale for a 1929 buffalo nickel?
The highest recorded sale of a 1929 buffalo nickel was set in 2005 for an impressive $63,250. The coin in question was minted in Philadelphia and is said to have unmatched detail, definition, and frosting.