Struble Numismatics's Blog

15 Apr 2021

1936 Buffalo Nickel Proof?

Coins-United States | Struble Numismatics

Greetings fellow collectors, This coin has been bothering me since I acquired it a couple of months ago. It was in a Buffalo basket at a Jewelry/Coin shop in a rather high end area of the state. I bought it along with 2 other buffalos and 3 "V" nickels. This coin stood out above all the rest in the basket. At first glance I thought it was cleaned, and I had a professional dealer look at it as well and he too thought it was cleaned. But something about the way it still cartwheels in the light perfectly on both sides confuses me. Under high magnification, other than being a well circulated coin, I see no clear evidence of polish marks or buildup from polish or other cleaning agents. At best, in this condition, it would probably only grade a 10 but the mintage was only 4,420. so, numismaticly it still has value if it is indeed a proof. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you and Happy Collecting!

Update: Posting these new photos to show how the metals look up close. Aside from the toning on the one 1936 and the different date of the '35, can anyone tell me why the one looks so much different up close? Does cleaning and polishing leave jagged edges to reflect light? Does anyone know where I can get a microscopic photo of both the brilliant and satin proof nickels for '36?

Note: The color differences between the first picture in each group and the rest are the first was lit with an incandescent bulb and the close ups with built-in leds on the microscope.



Level 5

I cannot tell from the photos.

Long Beard

Level 5

In 1936 only 3,837 proof sets were sold, the only source for a proof coin of that year. To have one appear in circulation, while not out of the question, the odds are extremely slim. With a proof coin, the details are much more defined and the coin edge almost always square, sharp at times. Should this be a proof, for arguments sake, at the coin's current state wear has all but eliminated any hope of saying yeah or nay for certainty. When I looked at an image of an NGC certified example (Google search), the date on this one clearly does not appear consistent with a proof. Only my thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

I fully agree with you, the chances of it being a proof are slim to none at best. I'm going to send it in anyways to ease my mind. There is just something about the finish and how it cartwheels that just but me too much to not submit it at this point. Thank you for your advice on this coin. I looked up images like you suggested and the wear does make it hard to distinguish at this point in the coin's life.

Thank you all for the interest. I am putting it in with my next order. It's coins like this that keep numismatics alive. Even if it comes back polished it was still an amazing hunt, and look at all the new interest in a basket coin.

It could be a proof.


Level 6

Can't tell from the photo. Good luck in getting it checked out. ; )


Level 5

Send 'er in! No way to tell from the photo.


Level 6

No way to tell from photos. Take it around to other dealers. Maybe send it in with a note to only grade and slab if it is a proof. Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.


Level 7

Can't tell by pictures. Your going to have to send it in. I wouldn't say one way or another. Jewelry stores can polish very well. That's what they do. Try another dealer first. Lots of luck. . I hope it is a proof..

I definitely will. I agree a proof that saw a lot of use.


Level 5

Very interesting. Would have to see it in person to get an idea. Possible you have a proof that saw a lot of circulation. Let us know if you find out for sure. Good Luck

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