The buffalo nickel is one of US history’s most exciting and recognizable coins ever. Struck between 1913 to 1938, the coin was initially a top-rated coin with the public, who loved its unique design and aesthetic.
Also known as Indian head nickels, controversy soon arose over how quickly coins tarnished, meaning high-quality coins are increasingly rare nowadays.
One of the most popular issues of this coin is the 1935 buffalo nickel. If you have some of these coins in your wallet, it’s time to look closer at them, as one coin can easily be worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
This article will explore everything about the 1935 buffalo nickel value. We’ll highlight unique errors and varieties to look out for and show examples of some record-breaking auctions to demonstrate their immense potential.
1935 buffalo nickel value chart
|1935 no mint Buffalo Nickel value
|Up to $57,500
|1935 D Buffalo Nickel Value
|Up to $34,800
|1935 S Buffalo Nickel Value
|Up to $15,275
|1935 No Mint Double Die Reverse Error Buffalo Nickel Value
|Up to $104,650
1935 no mint Buffalo Nickel value
With a production record of 58,264,000, Philadelphia easily made the most 1935 buffalo nickel coins. You can identify these coins by examining the coin’s reverse side, where no mint mark will be present. No mint marks are a standard design feature of Philadelphian coins.
The 1935 no mint buffalo nickel mainly used the same design as the initial 1913 coins. Designed by American sculptor James Earle Fraser, the obverse features a Native American chief with feathers and a bison standing on the ground on the reverse side.
Fraser’s initial is found on the obverse, underneath the date of the coin, and is not to be confused as a mint mark. Like other nickels in the series, 1935 no mint buffalo nickel comprised 75% copper and 25% nickel. The high copper content made the 5-cent coin quite expensive to produce and raised its overall melting value higher than its face value, at $0.062. The nickel gave the coin its signature “shimmery” appearance.
The buffalo nickel’s design became quite popular with the American public on release, but controversy over the years over counterfeiting and early tarnishing concerns.
There were arguments that the buffalo nickel could be easily forged, as it didn’t register with some counterfeiting vending machines of the time. Additionally, the coin’s face eroded much quicker than expected, meaning many nickels that had gone into circulation required remelting and restriking.
This prompted Fraser to issue several redesigns, including changing the size of the text and changing the ground the bison stood on from rocky to flat. But despite these changes, nothing could distract from the production issues.
The US engraver’s department reported that the buffalo nickel used up dies “three times faster” than the previous Liberty Head design. As the coins quickly eroded beyond recognition, many 1935 buffalo nickels found today will be of average or poor quality.
Regarding value, 1935 no mint buffalo nickels are considered the least valuable coin variation. That’s because, with a higher production record, a potentially higher number of coins could still be circulating, diminishing its appeal somewhat.
Depending on their grading, they usually sell for about $1.16-$5.84. Uncirculated coins can almost always sell for significantly higher.
Finding high-quality coins that score higher than MS67+ is exceedingly rare. The auction site PCGS lists various sales ranging from a couple of hundred to thousands of dollars. For example, this 1935 no mint buffalo nickel sold at a reasonable $3,120, mainly due to the overall preservation of the coin.
But the record for biggest sale goes to this 1935 no mint buffalo nickel, which, in 2007, sold for an unprecedented $57,500. The reason? The coin is said to have exceptionally vibrant colors, a pronounced strike, and minimal flaws.
1935 D Buffalo Nickel Value
If your 1935 D buffalo nickel has a ‘D’ mint mark on the coin’s reverse, this tells us that you own a coin minted in Denver.
There were only 12,092,000 nickels produced in Denver that year, much less than in Philadelphia. As such, the 1935 D buffalo nickel is often considered more valuable and will typically sell for more.
Like other nickels of the era, the 1935 D buffalo nickel is composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel, giving it a silver-like appearance that, unfortunately, eroded quite quickly in circulation.
It had a diameter of 21.21mm and a thickness of 1.95mm, and like other low-value coins of the time, had smooth, unreeded edges, making it easier to take filings from and subsequently counterfeit.
On average, your 1935 D buffalo nickel will fetch between $1.46 to $23, even in fair or good condition. This is drastically higher than the coin’s melt value, currently at just $0.062.
Like the no mint variation, finding 1935 D buffalo nickels in good condition has become increasingly rare. The presence of a mint mark further adds to the appeal of high-quality coins, as these were often the first features to become worn out when in circulation.
Regarding potential value, high-condition 1935 D buffalo nickels have done very well on public auction sites like PCGS, with sales of between a few hundred, to thousands of dollars.
The highest recorded sale for a 1935 d buffalo nickel was $34,800 in 2021; the coin was praised for its high luster, silky-smooth surface, and well-defined mint mark.
1935 S Buffalo Nickel Value
The San Francisco mint produced the lowest amount of buffalo nickels in 1935, reaching only 10,300,000. Because of their lower production numbers, the S buffalo nickel is considered uncommon by today’s standards and, on average, is the most valuable variation.
You can tell if you have a San Francisco nickel by its signature ‘S’ mint mark on the coin’s reverse. Like other buffalo nickels, it had a significant 75% copper composition, with the remaining 25% nickel and a higher than the face-value melt value of $0.062.
Average or fair coins can earn a respectable $1.46 to $48, with higher conditioned coins making considerably more.
The highest recorded sale for a 1935 S buffalo nickel was set in 2019 when this coin sold for $15,275. That’s near twice the recommended price guide set by PCGS. This was largely down to the coin’s “iridescent” colors, robust and bold luster, and clean surface.
1935 No Mint Double Die Reverse Error Buffalo Nickel Value
Though not an official variety by design, a widespread die error in 1935 has emerged as a highly collectible coin in its own right –the 1935 no mint double die error buffalo nickel.
The buffalo nickel was a complicated design for minters, and it is said that the die would break three times faster than previous nickel designs. That meant break errors were widespread. And because of its high copper content and expensive production, minters decided to enter the coin into circulation rather than recreate it.
These coins have no mint mark, meaning they were likely produced in Philadelphia. No official record of how many coins issued have this error, so we can only assume they form part of the much larger 58 million recorded coins.
The error would occur on the coin’s reverse side, where the die would shift position between strikes. The result is a ‘doubling’ effect, where letters, numbers, and other high-rise design features would be pronounced and sharp.
Despite being a common find online, the 1935 no mint double die reverse coin is one of the most valuable types of buffalo nickel ever made. Even in Good or Extremely Fine condition, it can easily sell for a couple hundred dollars. Higher-conditioned coins can fetch thousands easily.
It also holds the record for the most expensive 1935 nickel sold, retailing at $104,640 in 2007. This was because of its solid strike and pronounced letters, particularly denoting the coin’s worth of “Five Cents.”
1935 buffalo nickel Grading
As a US coin, the Sheldon coin grading system is the most popular scale for measuring the condition of buffalo nickels. It is a 70-point scale that can organize coins according to sheen, level of detail, and preservation.
Below is an easy guide that explains how to grade your 1935 buffalo nickel:
Rare 1935 buffalo nickel Error List
Errors can transform a generic-looking penny into a one-of-a-kind treasure. Below are some of the most common (and valuable) errors found in a 1935 buffalo nickel:
1935 buffalo nickel Off-center error
Off-center errors occur when the stamp and the coin are misaligned. This can result in the coin’s design being struck at an angle or even partially missing.
An off-center error is when the coin and the stamp are misaligned, resulting in the design being skewed or partially missing from the coin surface.
Generally speaking, the more severe the off-centering, the more valuable the coin becomes. Collectors often rank this error in percentages. This 1935 no mint buffalo nickel has an off-center of just 7%, yet it sold in 2012 for a high premium of $616.
To compare, this 1935 no mint buffalo nickel had a higher off-center error of 25% and sold for a higher rate of $2,760 in 2010.
1935 buffalo nickel re-punched error
Often shortened to RPM, a repunched error is when the mint mark is struck on the coin a second time. This resulted in the mint mark being very pronounced. If the coin moved slightly, it could also result in a somewhat distorted-looking mint mark.
Because mint marks were hand-stamped in 1935, this error can be pretty standard across all three mint locations. Depending on the severity of the error, an RPM coin can sell for thousands of dollars.
For example, this 1935 S buffalo nickel sold for an impressive $7,800 at auction in 2018. The listing noted the coin’s exceptional strike and luster and a clearly defined repunched mint mark.
1935 buffalo nickel with clipped coin error
A clipped coin error is when coins are struck on a clipped planchet, causing a distinct “bite mark” to be taken away from the coin. The error will largely depend on the planchet in question, with some coins having straight clips taken off, curved ones, irregularly shaped, or bowtie clips.
Similar to off-centering, collectors measure clip errors in percentages. This 1935 buffalo nickel has a 20% straight clip error and is worth over $253. Curved clips, on the other hand, aren’t seen as that valuable and may only go for around $52.
1935 buffalo nickel FAQ
Is the 1935 buffalo nickel rare?
Because of its lower-than-average production numbers, the 1935 buffalo nickel is considered somewhat rare and often will sell far above its face value in most conditions.
But rare buffalo nickels are hard to find. That’s because the coin was notorious for degrading quickly in circulation. A 1935 buffalo nickel with a high mint grade and intact features is rare.
What is the 1935 buffalo nickel made from?
Despite its name, the 1935 buffalo nickel mostly comprises copper (75%) and nickel (25%). This composition started in 1873. Beforehand, nickels included pure silver or a combination of silver and cupronickel.
Why was the buffalo nickel redesigned?
Initially, the public loved the buffalo nickel for its attractive design. But because of its high production cost and short lifespan, it was no surprise that the US Mint immediately decided to redesign the coin when given the opportunity. In 1938, an open competition saw a new nickel designed as the Jefferson nickel.
Which is rarer, a 1946 no mint, D or S buffalo nickel?
Because of their lower production number, S buffalo nickels are generally seen as rarer and more valuable than their rival no mint or D buffalo nickel variants. However, mint mark aside, the coin’s condition is the most important thing in marking the rarity of a 1936 buffalo nickel.
What is the highest recorded sale for a 1935 buffalo nickel?
The highest recorded auction for a 1935 buffalo nickel is $104,650. The coin was sold in 2007 and featured the signature Double Die Reverse error.