The Buffalo Nickel’s beauty and allure has captivated coin enthusiast, young and old, male and female, for over a hundred years and there is no sign of it falling out of favor anytime soon. A favorite among most coin collectors, it was designed by James Earle Fraser and was produced from 1913-1938. It is commonly - and mistakenly - referred to as the “Indian Head Nickel” and you can be sure to stand quickly corrected if those words are spoken near any true collector. However, if you enjoy ruffling a few feathers from time to time, feel free to use that title at will.
Shortly after its release, Charles Barber, designer of the Barber Coinage series, noticed that the denomination area of the coin was fading rapidly during mintage. Barber requested and proposed revisions for the reverse (back of the coin) to be changed to strengthen “Five Cents,” for which Fraser immediately agreed upon. Strangely enough, although the date area too was widely acknowledged by coin enthusiasts and coin designers to be facing the same fading issues, it remained unchanged.
The initial design, now known as “Type 1” by regular collectors, features the Buffalo standing on a raised mound. The revised or improved design, known as “Type 2,” depicts the Buffalo standing on a flat line or a flat piece of land. Mintages of the Type 2 are much lower (this means that not very many were produced - in comparison to the first design - by the mint and therefore, there is more demand for them by coin collectors and some may even pay a higher price to obtain one). These coins were produced in the Denver and San Francisco Mint and carry a much larger premium in the collecting arena. It could profit a collector or buyer and seller of coins to make note of the differences between these two coin designs. It is quite common for flea market vendors or coin collection inheritors to be unaware of what they have. The choice is up to you to kindly inform them of the worth of their coins or to nab yourself a great deal! Whichever you choose, we promise not to tell. (Below is a close-up of each type.)