1936 Buffalo Nickel Value: How Much Is It Worth Today?
The 1936 Buffalo nickel – also known as the Indian Head nickel – is one of the most valuable coins in the market. In fact, a coin where the buffalo only has 3 and a half legs can sell for as much as $21,209.
Apart from this rare error, many other factors (and mistakes) can increase your 1936 Buffalo nickel’s value. Let’s explore all of them below.
1936 Buffalo Nickel Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||Uncirculated|
|1936 No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel||$1.46||$2.05||$3.38||$28-$57|
|1936 D Nickel||$1.46||$2.05||$4.63||$46-$52|
|1936 D Nickel: 3 and a Half Legs||$492||$1,161||$3,394||$14,245- $21,209|
|1936 S Nickel||$1.46||$2.05||$4.63||$43-$52|
1936 No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel Value
The 1936 no mint mark Buffalo nickel was minted in Philadelphia at a quantity of 119,001,420.
It is one of the last batches of Indian head nickels, as this coin was only produced from 1913 until 1938. It was eventually replaced by the Jefferson nickel, which has been utilized from 1938 to the present.
Design and Composition
The design was created by the sculptor James Earle Fraser, who created several public monuments. His works included DC’s John Keep Monument and the Treasury Building’s Alexander Hamilton Sculpture.
Fraser’s obverse design features the image of a Native American, hence the coin’s other moniker – the Indian Head nickel.
According to the sculptor, there was no specific Native American that inspired the profile. However, many believe it was patterned after the Lakota Chief Iron Tail, the Cheyenne Chief Two Moons, and the Kiowa Chief Big Tree.
Seneca Chief John Big Tree also claimed to be the “Nickel Indian” until his death in 1967.
Outside of the famed Native American profile, the obverse also features the word “Liberty” on the right side and the year 1936 near the neck.
The reverse, meanwhile, depicts the bison. However, many think of it as a buffalo. And yes, this is where the coin gets its other nickname: the Buffalo nickel.
Fraser actually confirms this. According to excerpts, he was inspired by an American bison based in the Bronx zoo. True enough, bison can only be found in the Americas – while buffaloes can only be seen in Asia and Africa.
Apart from the bison (or buffalo), the back side also bears “United States of America” on the top arc and the motto “E Pluribus Unum” under the word America.
The coin’s label, five cents, is written underneath the buffalo.
There is no mint mark underneath, which is common among many coins minted in Philadelphia. Likewise, this practice continued for quite some time because director Eva Adams believed that the mint mark caused people to hoard coins.
As for composition, the plain-edge 1936 Buffalo nickel is made with 75% copper and 25% nickel. It has a diameter of 21.2 mm and a weight of 5 grams.
A good-condition 1936 no mint mark Buffalo nickel is worth $1.46. Fine-grade coins are valued at $2.05, while extremely fine coins can sell for as much as $3.38.
Uncirculated coins can be worth as much as 7x the value of extremely fine currencies. As stated, they can sell for as much as $28 to $57 a pop.
1936 D Buffalo Nickel Value
As the name suggests, the 1936 D nickel was minted in Denver. A total of 24,814,000 coins were created in the said year.
Design and Composition
The 1936 D nickel, as with most Buffalo nickels, was created after Theodore Roosevelt was dissatisfied with American coinage. He wanted Augustus Saint-Gaudens to design the coin. However, it was his assistant Fraser’s designs that then Treasury secretary Franklin MacVeagh approved.
For this, Fraser was compensated $2,500 plus an additional $666.15 for his extra work.
The design of the 1936 D nickel is pretty much similar to the 1936 no mint mark Buffalo nickel. It is made with 75% copper and 25% nickel. It has a diameter of 21.2 mm and a weight of 5 grams.
Likewise, it features a Native American’s profile on the obverse and the buffalo on the reverse. The only difference is it has a ‘D’ mint mark printed below the words “Five cents.”
The value of the 1936 D nickel is similar to the no mint mark nickel, at least for good- ($1.46) and fine-grade ($2.05) coins. Extremely fine 1936 D nickels are higher in value, though, for they are worth $4.63.
Uncirculated coins are worth more, too, with a valuation starting at $46. However, the upper price range is lower than that of no mint mark nickels at just $52 (compared to the latter’s $57).
That said, many of the 1936 Buffalo nickel’s priciest errors come from this minting location. The best example is the 3-and-a-half-legs error, which will be discussed in detail below.
1936 D Buffalo Nickel 3 and a Half Legs Value
As mentioned above, the 1936 D 3 and a half legs coin is considered an error. That’s because the buffalo on the reverse has 3 solid legs and a partially clear front leg. Given this appearance, it is no surprise that this currency has earned the moniker “3 and a half legs.”
According to experts, this error occurred because someone from the Denver mint over-polished the reverse die. It wore out faster compared to the Liberty head die, so, as a result, half a leg was removed from the finished product.
Design and Composition
Apart from this ‘error’ on the reverse side, this nickel bears the same features, such as the Indian head on the obverse. Its weight and composition remain the same as other 1936 Buffalo nickels.
This error is as rare as it comes. It’s so precious that a good-grade coin costs as much as $492. Meanwhile, fine and extremely fine coins clock in at $1,161 and $3,394, respectively.
If, by any chance, you have an uncirculated coin, then you’ll have a field day at the auction house. That’s because uncirculated 1936 D 3-and-a-half leg coins can sell for $14,245 to $21,209.
1936 S Buffalo Nickel Value
The 1936 S Buffalo nickel, as the name suggests, was minted in San Francisco. A total of 14,930,000 nickels were released into circulation that year.
Design and Composition
Again, the 1936 S Buffalo nickel is similar to the appearance and composition of the no-mint-mark and S nickels. However, the difference lies in the mint mark. It bears the letter S underneath the words “Five cents.”
The value of a 1936 S nickel is $1.46 (good) to $2.05 (fine). Extremely fine coins are worth $4.63, just like the 1936 D nickel. Uncirculated coins, meanwhile, are valued at $43 to $52.
1936 Buffalo Nickel Grading
The 1936 Buffalo nickel’s worth largely depends on its grading. The coin’s condition is established by checking its color, attractiveness, preservation, strike, luster, and mintage location.
Good-grade nickels are valued at $1.46, while uncirculated coins cost anywhere from $28 to $57.
Rare 1936 Buffalo Nickel Error List
Errors can make coins, such as the 1936 Buffalo nickel, more valuable. Here are some mistakes that may help you earn thousands of bucks:
1936 D Buffalo Nickel 3 and a Half Legs Error
As mentioned, the 3-and-a-half leg coin is a printing error. These Denver-minted currencies only show 3 and a half legs on the reverse, probably because a staff member over-polished the die.
Collectors have this worker to thank for the coin’s high value. As mentioned, a good-grade coin can sell for a low $492, while uncirculated currencies can sell for $14,245 to $21,209.
1936 Buffalo Nickel Double Die Error
A double die error or hub doubling is characterized by the duplication of images, words, numbers, or other coin design elements. This occurs when the die or hub is misaligned during hubbing, which is the process of making dies.
A 1936 nickel with a double die obverse error usually has doubling on the year and the letters of the word Liberty.
A double die error on the reverse usually affects the letters of the phrase “Et Pluribus Unum,” “United States of America,” and “Five Cents.”
Double die errors can sell for $1,500 to $2,000, especially if the coin is in mint condition.
1936 Buffalo Nickel Repunched Mint Mark Error
A repunched mint mark error occurs when the letter punch die yields two (or more) impressions. In the case of 1936 Buffalo nickels, repunched mint mark or RPM errors can take the appearance of:
- D/D, where a D mint mark is punched over another D
- D/S, where a D mint mark is stamped over S
Coins with RPM errors can sell for as much as $365 (MS-65 grade.)
1936 Buffalo Nickel Over Mint Mark Error
The presence of two overlapping mint marks characterizes an over mint mark error. The first or obscured mint mark is smaller and thinner than the second/definitive mint mark.
This can occur because of a weak punch into the working die. Likewise, it can result from an attempt to remove the first mint mark before punching in the second one.
An MS-65 coin with this error can sell for as much as $450.
1936 Buffalo Nickel Struck on Silver 10 Cent Planchet Error
Coins are stamped on planchets or metal disks from which such currencies are made. In some cases, coins can be minted on the wrong planchet. This is what happened in this error.
Instead of being stamped in a nickel planchet, the coin was imprinted on a silver 10-cent planchet. Since the dime is smaller, some of the Buffalo nickel’s design has been cut off.
The combination of errors has made this coin pretty valuable. In fact, one such Buffalo nickel was sold for as much as $9,700 in the market.
1936 Buffalo Nickel FAQs
Is a 1936 Buffalo Nickel real silver?
No. The 1936 Buffalo nickel, as with other Indian head nickels, does not contain silver. It is made of 75% copper and 25% nickel.
Nickels minted from 1942 to 1945 are the ones that have 35% silver.
Where is the mint mark located on a 1936 Buffalo Nickel?
The mint mark can be found on the reverse side of the 1936 buffalo nickel. It is punched underneath the space between the words “Five” and “Cent.”
What is the error on a 1936 Buffalo Nickel?
There are many errors that can be found on the 1936 Buffalo nickel:
- 3 and a half legs error (Denver-minted coins)
- Double die error (obverse and/or reverse sides)
- Repunched mint mark error
- Over mint mark error
- Struck on a silver 10 cent planchet
What makes a 1936 Buffalo Nickel valuable?
A 1936 Buffalo nickel’s condition and/or errors can make it valuable. For example, an uncirculated 1936 Buffalo nickel with a 3-and-a-half-leg error can sell for as much as $21,209.
Other errors that can sell for reasonable prices include the double die error ($1,500 to $2,000), and a nickel struck on a 10-cent planchet ($9,700 value.)
What is the most expensive 1936 Buffalo Nickel?
The highest value 1936 Buffalo nickel is the uncirculated, Denver-minted coin with a 3 and a half leg error. This coin is worth anywhere from $14,245 to $21,209.