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user_95183's Blog

29 Aug 2022

No-Date Buffalo Nickels

Coins-United States | user_95183

Hello, Everyone! Today I will be talking about no-date Buffalo nickels. Although unpopular, they are a common part of coin collecting and actually have a somewhat funny theory of why the date on these coins wore off easily. With so much to know, let’s get started!


The Missing Date


Unfortunately, if you have found a Buffalo nickel with no date, you most likely have not found a rare and valuable variety. The date has just worn off over time due to many people handling and rubbing the coin. But then, how come the dates on other coins don’t wear off very often, even if almost all the other details have been completely worn away? This is due to the location of the date.


The date on Buffalo nickels is very close to the edge of the coin, which is most often the part of the coin that is worn away the easiest. More importantly, the date is placed on a part of the coin that has a high relief and is very vulnerable to wear. This is because higher features of the coin are allowed to touch and rub on more things than low relief portions of the design because fingers don’t have to press hard to rub higher elements, but someone would really have to rub hard to wear a low relief part of the design. The date on most coins is placed on a low relief feature of the coin to avoid wear, but for some reason the date on the Buffalo nickel was placed on one of the highest points of the design. Why would the Mint do this?


There is actually a very funny theory as to why the date on Buffalo nickels was placed in this poor location on the design. The theory goes that sculptor Charles Barber was mad that the Mint decided to change the design on the nickels from his Liberty Head design to James Earle Fraser’s new Buffalo design. So, when sculpting the Buffalo nickel design for the new dies, he decided to get some revenge on Fraser and purposely sculpted the date part of the design to be in a higher relief than Fraser intended it to be. This would make the date wear away quickly and possibly make the Mint get mad at Fraser and his design and the Mint would get rid of his design and put in a new design that Barber created. This may not be true, but it is a fun theory that collectors like to believe is true.


Discovering the Date of a No-Date Buffalo Nickel


As you know, the date on Buffalo nickels is in the bottom left portion of the design on the Indian’s shoulder. Sometimes, a Buffalo nickel will look like it has no date at first, but if you mess around with magnification and lighting, you may be able to extract a date. If you have tried lots of different lighting and magnification techniques and still can’t see a date, you can try using an acid to extract a date. This should be your last resort because using acid makes the area around the date dark and it can greatly decrease the coin’s value. However, while a no-date coin is worth less than a dollar, if you use acid to discover you have a key date coin, the coin can still be worth a significant amount of money. This often makes it worth it to use acid. The most popular and common acid used to extract a date on a Buffalo nickel is Nic-a-Date.


Clearly, although unpopular and frowned upon, no-date Buffalo nickels are somewhat unique and have a pretty fun story to boot. Thanks for reading and have a great day!


Comments

CC

Level 4

wow at my coin store they sell them for five cents each

Mike

Level 7

You have to follow people back so you can message each other!!

TCHTrove

Level 4

I sell many no date nickels @ $1 a piece. Don’t know the reasoning of most of the buyers. Did have a lady take ALL that I had at one point. She hand crafted saddles. The design is very ornamental for western themed jewelry and what not.

AC coin$

Level 6

Excellent blog and subject. It has been in my mind for some time the aspect of finding dates for samples or items without visible or struck information. Thanks,

Rebelfire76

Level 4

A very popular coin with a few flaws. I have several that the dates are difficult to read. I often see “no dates” for sale. Other than nickel value which has increased some lately, numismatic value, other than nostalgia, isn’t much more than face value without date. But everyone collects what they like, and sometimes just the look of a Buffalo nickel is enough.

Long Beard

Level 5

I enjoyed reading about the Barber-Frasier theory, which until now had not heard. Knowing of this feud for years, I'm inclined to believe there's some truth behind it.

Kepi

Level 6

I agree with Longstrider... I've been able to use these on my leather work. They are really cool! People like them on decorative items. Thanks for the blog! ; )

Longstrider

Level 6

I have used these nickels to make jewelry in my old days. They made very popular neckless and buttons. Thanks for the blog.

coinsbygary

Level 5

The standing Liberty had the same problem with the date, and the mint eventually fixed the problem by recessing the date. Interestingly, the denomination "5 CENTS" would have worn off the mound on the reverse of the Buffalo nickel, much like the date on the obverse. However, the mint quickly fixed this problem by recessing the denomination.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

I enjoyed your blog. Normally when I hear people talking about dipping coins or such I cringe in horror, but with a no date nickel, there really isn't much to lose now is there?

Mike

Level 7

Be very careful when you use this process. It was popular years ago and I hope no one got hurt. As far as grading these I don't know. They have been altered. Maybe they do. Thanks for a very informative blog well done.

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