Buffalo Nickels

The Indian Head Nickel, often referred to as the Buffalo Nickel, quickly gained immense popularity among collectors and the general public due to its unique and intricate design. This coin, minted from 1913 to 1938, holds a special place in the world of numismatics, owing to its captivating portrayal of American heritage and the wild, untamed spirit of the American West.

The obverse side of the Indian Head Nickel features a proud Native American Chief in profile, adorned with a feather headdress, which reflects the rich Native American culture of the United States. The design of the Chief’s facial features is remarkably detailed, with intricate lines and shading that bring life to the image. The Chief’s dignified countenance and the symbolism of his presence on the coin evoke a sense of pride and honor.

On the reverse side of the coin, you’ll find the majestic American bison, often affectionately referred to as “Black Diamond.” This formidable buffalo, standing proudly on a mound, has become a symbol of the American West and its wild, untamed wilderness. The attention to detail in the buffalo’s depiction is astounding. The bison’s strong and stoic stance, its hulking frame, and the finely rendered fur and muscle structure make it a work of art in its own right.

The legend of “Black Diamond” is not limited to its portrayal on the Indian Head Nickel. It is said that this buffalo served as the model for the coin’s design and was housed in the New York Central Park Zoo. This added a layer of mystique to the coin, as collectors imagined the buffalo’s real-life counterpart that inspired this iconic image. However, like many legends, the truth behind this claim is subject to debate among numismatic experts. Some suggest that the buffalo was not a direct model for the coin, but rather a composite of different buffalo that the designer, James E. Fraser, had observed. Regardless of the veracity of this tale, it has become an integral part of the Indian Head Nickel’s lore.