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How Much Is A 1935 Buffalo Nickel Worth?

Buffalo Nickels or Indian Head Nickels might not be the first 5 cents coins struck by the U.S. Mint, but they are arguably the most well-designed and famous.

The 1935 Buffalo nickel, especially in circulated condition, is fairly common and can trade anywhere from $0.50 to $25. However, there are a few gems that present huge investment opportunities.

An example of these gems sold for over $100,000 in 2007. But more recently, a 1935-S with grade MS67+ sold for $8,813, which still is an impressive price.

Besides their value, 1935 nickels, like other members of the Buffalo Nickel series, feature a unique and beautiful design that honors America’s culture and heritage.

Continue reading to learn more about the background, key varieties, and value of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel.

1935 Buffalo Nickel Coin Details

1935 Buffalo Nickel

  • Category: Buffalo Nickel (1913-1938)
  • Mint: Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver
  • Mintage: 80,656,000
  • Designer: James Earle Fraser
  • Composition: 75% copper, 25% nickel
  • Face Value: $0.05
  • Weight: 5 grams
  • Diameter: 21.21 mm
  • Thickness: 1.95 mm
  • Edge: Plain

1935 Buffalo Nickel History

The Buffalo Nickel was minted from 1913 to 1938 as a replacement for the Liberty Head nickel. They first entered circulation on February 22, 1913, as a part of a commemorative ceremony held in Staten Island, New York. That was the day when the foundation for the American Indian Memorial was laid.

The first forty Buffalo Nickels were given to Native American Chiefs as a token of respect. Ironically, during the same time, the U.S. government promised to build a Memorial to honor Native American Indians, but it never finished the construction.

A few years down after the first mintage, the tradition of having three minting facilities producing different types of coin went away. This lasted between 1930 and 1934. Keep in mind that the U.S. government didn’t produce any Buffalo Nickels in 1932 and 1933.

Production resumed in 1934, and the U.S. Mint picked up the aforementioned tradition in 1935. However, the 1935 Buffalo nickel pieces are among the most common dates in the series, along with the 1938 issue.

1935 Buffalo Nickel Design and Minting

The design of the obverse and reverse of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel was the work of distinguished sculptor and engraver James Earle Fraser.

Let’s see what marvelous Fraser did on the 1935 Nickel.

The Obverse Design

The obverse of the 1935 features the bust of a Native American wearing a feathered headdress facing right. Frase designed the portrait of the Native American based on the composite image of several individuals whom Fraser sketched during the designing process of this coin.

On the upper right of the portrait is the word “LIBERTY,” and on the bottom left, right at the neckline, is the date: 1935–the year of issue. Below the date is a tiny letter F, the signature of the coin artist.

The Reverse Design

The reverse design of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel was a point of contention among many experts. Though the public was utterly fascinated with their newly minted pretty coin, many experts criticized it and called the reverse design impractical to mint.

The design was the work of James Fraser, and it depicted an American bison facing left at the center. The bison is standing on flattened ground.

Initially, when the Buffalo Nickel was designed, the bison stood on raised ground. Due to the several minting issues experienced, Fraser changed the design and flattened the mound. Thus, we got the Type I and Type II Buffalo Nickels.

Other Elements of Reverse Design Include:

  • UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – Along the top edge of the coin.
  • E PLURIBUS UNUM – This motto falls just below the above inscription.
  • FIVE CENTS – Positioned at the bottom.
  • Mint Mark – If the coin came from the Philadelphia Mint, there would be no mint mark. However, those coins struck in San Francisco or Denver have the mint mark right below the denominational value.

The table below shows how many Buffalo Nickels were minted in 1935:

Mint Mint Mark Mintage
Philadelphia N/A 58,264,000
San Francisco S 10,300,000
Denver D 12,092,000
Total 80,656,000

1935 Buffalo Nickels Coin Varieties and Their Values

The value of any coin varies according to several factors. For instance, some mint marks may prove more valuable than others. In some instances, the rarity, the condition of the coin, or the grade determines how valuable your 1935 Buffalo Nickel is.

In 1935, there were three varieties of the Buffalo Nickel minted. The 1935 ‘no mint mark’ Buffalo Nickel came from the Philadelphia Mint, the 1935-S from the San Francisco Mint, and the 1935-D from the Denver Mint. Though they were all from the same year, each of these coins has a different value in the coin market.

The 1935 Buffalo Nickel was minted in such large numbers and put into circulation. Thus, the coin in circulated condition doesn’t carry a lot of value among collectors. However, in better condition, the value goes up by a bit.

For example, a 1935 Buffalo Nickel in “Good” condition is worth between $0.50 – $1. Such a coin shows a bit of heavy wear visible on the legends on both the obverse and reverse. Furthermore, the rim shows signs of wear, merging it with the lettering of the legends. But the major design details still stand out clearly.

A coin in “Extra Fine” condition raises the retail value of a 1935 Buffalo Nickel to about $3. The coin has a slight loss of detail that shows, especially on the hair braid. On the reverse, the wear shows on the front shoulder and upper back of the bison. However, the legends are still quite clear, and both sides of the coin.

Coins in uncirculated grades show very little evidence of wear, and they can still have an almost full mint shine. Such coins are significantly more valuable than their lower-graded equivalents. A good example is a 1935 Buffalo Nickel graded at MS 60, valued at $21, and an MS 63 grade valued at $35.

The table below breaks down the current prices of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel in different states and different grades:

1935 Buffalo Nickel Value Chart
Mint Mark Condition
Circulated About Uncirculated MS60–MS64 MS65–MS68 MS 69+
1935 Buffalo ‘No Mint Mark’ Nickel $0.50 – $6 $10 – $17.50 $23 – $60 $130 – $25,000 N/A
1935-S Buffalo Nickel $0.50 – $6 $15 – $38 $40 – $70 $380 – $7,000 N/A
1935-D Buffalo Nickel $0.50 – $25 $35 – $57 $60 – $110 $325 – $20,000 N/A

 

1. 1935 “No-Mint Mark” Buffalo Nickel

1935 Buffalo Nickel

The Philadelphia Mint produced the highest number of Buffalo Nickels in 1935 with over 58 million coins. That was almost five times the number of nickels from the other minting center. As with all years, all nickels coming from the Philadelphia Mint had no mint mark.

Since most were released into circulation, you can find one for as little as $0.45 to about $5. But surprisingly, a 1935 Buffalo Nickel in very fine condition (VF35) sold for around $403 in April 2023.

In an uncirculated state, this coin might go for about $7.4 to $21 or more. However, if you luck out and come across a 1935 no-mint mark Buffalo Nickel graded at MS 65 or MS 66, you’re in for a treat. These coins might garner several hundred dollars at an auction. This is due to the lack of wear on the coin surfaces.

For example, in 2007, a 1935 no-mint mark Buffalo Nickel graded at MS 68 sold for $57,500.

The table below is a compilation of the top recent sales of the 1935 no-mint mark Buffalo Nickels:

Grade Price Auction House Date
MS65 $168 Stack’s Bowers Aug-2023
MS66 $660 Stack’s Bowers Aug-2023
MS66+ $312 Stack’s Bowers Aug-2023
MS67 $930 Heritage Auctions Apr-2023
MS67+ $1,380 Heritage Auctions Jan-2023

2. 1935-S Buffalo Nickel

1935-S Buffalo Nickel

The 1935-S Buffalo Nickels came from the San Francisco mint. As such, they all have the mint mark ‘S’ struck right below the denomination.

The San Francisco mint produced the least amount of Buffalo Nickels in 1935, with only 10,300,000 coins struck. Due to this, the 1935-S Buffalo Nickel is relatively rare as compared to its other 1935 counterparts.

A 1935-S Buffalo Nickel in a circulated state can be valued at $0.45 to around $30. This is because the San Francisco Mint usually provided some of the best-struck coins.

A 1935-S Buffalo Nickel graded at MS 66 or MS 65 usually goes for about $150 to about $312. But if you happen to come across 1935-S Buffalo Nickel, you’ve struck gold. These coins often hit unequivocally high prices of about $1800 to $3200.

Furthermore, at an auction in March 2019, a 1935-S Buffalo Nickel graded at MS 67+ sold for a whopping $15,275. The coin was free from any wear marks and was awash with shades of pink, green, violet, and gold. Both sides of the coin were well-struck and detailed.

The table below shows a couple of 1935-S Buffalo Nickels that sold at amazing prices.

Grade Price Auction House Date
MS64 $149 Heritage Auctions May-2023
MS65 $288 Stack’s Bowers Aug-2023
MS66 $384 Stack’s Bowers Aug-2023
MS67 $2,820 Legend Rare Coin Auctions Nov-2023
MS67+ $3,000 Heritage Auctions Jul-2023

3. 1935-D Buffalo Nickel

1935-D Buffalo Nickel

In 1935, the Denver Mint struck 12,092,000 Buffalo Nickels. This was the second-highest count of 1935. If you come across a 1935 Buffalo Nickel with a tiny ‘D’ at the bottom edge of the reverse side, you know it’s from the Denver Mint.

Of this series, the Denver coins are among the most sought-after coins since they’re rare, especially in their mint state or Gem condition. In circulated states, their prices might range from $0.45 to about $55.

However, the values are significantly raised as the grade and condition of the coins improve. For instance, a 1935-D Buffalo Nickel graded on MS 60 might trade for $55 to $66. One graded on MS 66 might sell for about $2000 to $3000.

In March 2021, an uncirculated 1935-D Buffalo Nickel graded at MS 67+ sold for $34,800. The coin had a satiny feel to its surface, with all its design details vividly intact.

In the table below, we’ve put together a list of some of the priciest 1935-D Buffalo Nickels:

Grade Price Auction House Date
MS63 $109 Heritage Auctions Dec-2022
MS64 $144 Stack’s Bowers May-2023
MS65+ $384 Stack’s Bowers Aug-2023
MS66 $504 Heritage Auctions May-2023
MS67+ $4,560 Heritage Auctions May-2023

1935 Buffalo Nickel Errors

1. 1935 Buffalo Nickel Double Dies Reverse

1935 Buffalo Nickel Double Dies Reverse Error

As usual, no coin series is ever complete without its fair share of errors, and the 1935 Buffalo Nickel is no exception.

One of the rare errors of the 1935 Nickel is the Double Die Reverse error or DDR. A double die error occurs when the die shifts in-between strikes, creating an unintended duplicate design on the coin.

In the 1935 Buffalo Nickel, the doubling is quite visible on the legend “FIVE CENTS” and the lettering ‘LU’ in the word ‘PLURIBUS’.

In a different variant of the same error, the doubling isn’t quite as obvious, but can be seen in the lettering ‘TS’ in the ‘CENTS’.

Doubling is considered a rarity, and it is quite valuable in the coin market. A 1935 Buffalo Nickel in a circulated state with a double die reverse error can be worth about $42 to $1667.

However, if you were to find such a coin in pristine condition, the price would skyrocket to $5,462 or $25,300. This is because the coins are scarce in uncirculated grades, and less than 20 examples exist in all uncirculated grades.

The highest-selling ever 1935 Double die obverse error graded at MS 65 was sold at an auction in August 2007 for an impressive $104,650.

Though it is quite a common error, there are very few graded 1935 Buffalo Nickels with the double die reverse error.

Grade Price Auction House Date
AU58 $11750 Heritage Auctions Jan 2017
MS64 $9600 Stack’s Bowers Mar 2021
MS64 $9000 David Lawrence RC Dec 2018
MS62 $6000 Heritage Auctions Jan 2021
MS62 $4800 Heritage Auctions Jan 2020

2. 1935 Buffalo Nickel Struck Off Center

1935 Buffalo Nickel Struck Off Center Error

As the name implies, a 1935 Buffalo Nickel with this error has its design slightly misaligned on the planchet. However, don’t confuse this error with a misaligned die error due to their similarity in appearance.

The struck-off happens occurs when the planchet is improperly fed into the striking chamber, sitting particularly in the color. Remember, the collar holds the planchet in place when it is being struck. So, if the planchet is not positioned correctly, the resulting coins will have offset design elements on both sides.

The value of the coin varies significantly depending on the percentage of the off-center.

Here are some examples of 1935 Buffalo Nickels struck off-center and their prices.

  • 1935 Buffalo Nickel Struck 5% Off Center MS64 – Sold for $517
  • 1935 Buffalo Nickel Struck 10% Off Center at 5 O’clock MS63 – Sold for $1,035
  • 1935 Buffalo Nickel 20% Straight Clip MS64 – Sold for $253
  • 1935 Buffalo Nickel Struck 15% Off Center MS65- Sold for $1,380

3. 1935 Buffalo Nickel Struck a Cent Planchet

1935 Buffalo Nickel Struck a Cent Planchet Error

Believe it or not, this error coin can sell for as much as $10,637 in 2005. So, if you do find such a specimen in good condition, expect to bag a significant amount of money.

The descriptions for this error are pretty straightforward. It occurs when a 1935 Buffalo Nickel is struck on a wrong planchet. In this case, a cent planchet.

As you can see, the Indian Head Nickel was squeezed seriously by the buffalo and Indian Head design on the dies. The coins also have a brown to bright red coloration.

Closing Thoughts

As we wrap, remember the mentioned values of 1935 Buffalo Nickels are not fixed. They often fluctuate according to market conditions. Factors like the coin’s grade (or state), mintmark, and rarity also affect its worth.

If you have stumbled on a 1935 nickel and believe it is valuable, consult a reputable grading company or professional coin appraiser to know its worth.

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