» 1926 Buffalo Nickel Error List & Value

1926 Buffalo Nickel Error List & Value

1926 buffalo nickel value

The Buffalo nickel was around for 25 years, from 1913 to 1938. And although there are plenty of key dates to collect in the series, the 1926 run of the Buffalo nickel is among the rarest, making it tough to collect and very valuable today.

Though frustrating for many coin collectors, looking for a 1926 Buffalo nickel is a fulfilling challenge. The best part is that when you finally get your hands on one—especially one from the San Francisco Mint—you’ll likely be rewarded with a price beyond your imagination.

So, how much is a 1926 Buffalo nickel value today? Join us as we rediscover this historic coin and see its immense value in modern times. Keep scrolling to find out more!

1926 Buffalo Nickel Value Chart

Mint Mark Extremely Fine AU58 About Uncirculated MS62 Uncirculated MS64 Choice Uncirculated MS66 Gem Uncirculated
1926 No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel Value $20 $40 $65 $120 $525
1926 “D” Buffalo Nickel Value $220 $325 $425 $1,325 $9,000
1926 “S” Buffalo Nickel Value $900 $4,150 $6,900 $13,750 $135,000

1926 No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel Value

1926 No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel Value
Image Credit: USA Coin Book

In the 19th century and early 20th century, Native American-Indians portrayed in U.S. coinage have always looked like Caucasians forced to wear Indian accessories. This wasn’t the right way to depict our ancestors. So, designer James Earle Fraser made it his mission to change that.

Fraser was given the task of designing the new nickel set for production in 1913, which would later be known as the iconic Buffalo nickel. What made this coin so memorable is the fact that Fraser poured his heart and soul into the design to make the images as accurate as possible.

The obverse shows an Indian chief with a feathered headdress. To the right of this chief is the word “Liberty,” and underneath him, the year of mintage.
To make sure he could depict an Indian chief as accurately as he can, Fraser had invited three native chiefs to sit and model for him. These chiefs were Two Moons, Iron Tail, and allegedly, John Big Tree.

The reverse, on the other hand, shows an American bison. Because Fraser wanted the depiction to be authentic, he did not draw a random buffalo. Instead, he sat in the Central Park Zoo and drew a real buffalo named Black Diamond.

Above the buffalo are the words “United States of America” in an arc, and the creed “E pluribus unum” in a smaller font below it. The bottom of the reverse shows the denomination “Five Cents.”

Over a billion Buffalo nickels were struck in the series, all from Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Those from the latter two have mint marks “D” or “S” on the reverse, right after “Five Cents.” Fraser’s initial “F” is also seen on the obverse, underneath the date.

The 1926 run of the Buffalo nickel is among the toughest dates to collect in this series. It’s known for its low mintage, specifically in Denver and San Francisco. But first, let’s talk about the issue that created the most coins that year—the Philadelphia-minted coins.

In 1926, the Philadelphia Mint created close to 45 million Buffalo nickels. Across the 1920s, this was the highest mintage ever for the coin.

In circulated grades—from poor to extremely fine conditions—1926 (P) Buffalo nickels can be sold for anywhere between $0.50 and $20. About-uncirculated coins usually range from $25 to $37.50. And at the highest about-uncirculated grade of AU58, these coins are valued at $40 apiece.

Although mint-state, uncirculated coins are plentiful, some of them are not fully struck. That said, there are still plenty of lustrous, high-quality coins to go around. This is a huge improvement compared to the Buffalo nickels of the years prior.

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Mint-state 1926 (P) Buffalo nickels in the lower uncirculated grades are still worth a significant amount. An MS62 coin, for example, is valued at $65. But the 1926 (P) Buffalo nickels are most abundant in grades MS64 and MS65, which come at $120 and $230 apiece today.

The most valuable 1926 (P) Buffalo nickels are those in gem condition. An MS66 nickel will cost you about $525 today, while a superb, pristine MS67 can be sold for $2,000.

1926 D Buffalo Nickel Value

1926 D Buffalo Nickel Value

The Denver Mint produced a significantly lower number of Buffalo nickels in 1926 compared to the one in Philly. All in all, Denver created 5.6 million 1926 D Buffalo nickels.

Many rolls of 1926 D Buffalo nickels were kept in the vaults immediately after they were minted, seeing as how America was entering a recession at the time. They were kept there until the 1930s when it looked like the nation was finally about to recover.

Being poorly struck is a defining characteristic of this issue. In the 1920s, the word “Liberty” on the obverse usually showed a consistently weak strike, but it was especially noticeable in 1926. The bison’s head on the reverse is another design element that usually sees a weak strike.

Many of these poorly struck 1926 D Buffalo nickels still exist today. On the contrary, way fewer mint-state coins are known to survive almost a century since their mintage.

All that said, even circulated 1926 D Buffalo nickels were still quite valuable today—at least compared to other Buffalo nickel dates. Even in poor to average condition, this coin can sell for $5. In extremely fine condition, this value shoots up to over $200.

In about-uncirculated conditions, the 1926 D Buffalo nickels can go from $265 (at AU50) all the way up to $325 (at AU58).

Although only a few hundred of them remain, the 1926 D Buffalo nickel is most commonly found in mint-state grade MS63. In this condition, the coins will usually cost around $560 apiece today.

You’ll also be lucky to get your hands on superb gems. At MS66, this nickel will be worth $9,000, and at MS67, you can sell it for around $35,000!

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1926 S Buffalo Nickel Value

1926 S Buffalo Nickel Value

In 1926, San Francisco created only 970,000 Buffalo nickels—the lowest mintage for the entire series. Because it’s an incredibly rare issue, it’s also among the most expensive Buffalo nickels you will ever find.

When they were first released in 1926, many numismatic lovers hoarded these coins, although they had such a hard time doing so because of the insanely low mintage. Today, these coins are rare in both circulated and uncirculated grades.

Many of the 1926 S Buffalo nickels have a weak strike, mostly due to die erosion. This might be because they were already using such old and worn dies at the time, which created distorted strikes of many of the coin’s design elements.

Even then, the coins are incredibly valuable and pricey today. A 1926 S Buffalo nickel in poor to average condition will still sell for about $15, which rises to almost $350 in very fine condition. And in extremely fine condition, you may be able to sell for $900.

At grade AU58—which is still technically a circulated coin, mind you—a 1926 S Buffalo nickel is valued today at over $4,000.

Uncirculated coins are even way more valuable. Even when collectors in the 1920s tried to hoard these coins, so many of them were put into circulation already. So, it looks like just a couple hundred unworn, mint-state 1926 S Buffalo nickels have survived the decades.

At MS62, these coins can go for around $6,900. The 1926 S Buffalo nickel is most common in MS64, although only a little over a hundred are known to survive. In this grade, the coins can cost almost $14,000 when sold today.

But the treasures of 1926 S Buffalo nickels are those in gem condition. A coin with grade MS65 is worth $70,000, but can sometimes sell for more than that, like a fine coin ended up selling for over $105,000. An MS66, on the other hand, is valued today at a whopping $135,000.

1926 Buffalo Nickel Grading

Your coin’s grade is what ultimately determines its modern-day value. Circulated coins are those that were released for public use, and are less valuable than uncirculated coins, which have no wear. Here are some notes on how each type of Buffalo nickel will look like:

  • Circulated: There should be heavy wear on all surfaces of the coin, but the letters and numbers should still be readable. The highest and most detailed points of the coin (like the Indian chief’s hair and the buffalo’s shoulder) will look a bit flat and smooth.
  • Uncirculated: It should look shiny and lustrous like it has never been touched. The strike should be full and bold. Details like the chief’s feathers and the bison’s hair should be seen clearly. Little to no contact marks should be noticeable on the coin.

Need a hand figuring out if your well-preserved 1926 Buffalo nickel is just shy of uncirculated or in a perfect mint state? Let this video be your guide in grading your coin:

Rare 1926 Buffalo Nickel Error List

The 1926 Buffalo nickels are already immensely valuable to begin with, but a rare mint error can make the prices of these coins skyrocket even further.

Here are some errors you might be lucky to find in the 1926 Buffalo nickels specifically:

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1926 Buffalo Nickel 3 and 1/2 Leg Error

1926 Buffalo Nickel 3 and 1/2 Leg Error
Image Credit: eBay

When a Buffalo nickel has the three-and-a-half leg error, it means that one of the legs of the bison on the reverse is so weakly struck that it looks like it only has half a leg left.

You can identify this error by looking closely at the frontmost leg of the buffalo. It might look only partially there, while the remaining three legs look bold and distinctive. This die error is due to an over-polishing of the dies at the Mints.

This error has been found on a couple of coins, including a 1926 D Buffalo nickel in good, circulated condition. It ended up selling for almost $190, while the usual value of a circulated coin in this condition is a mere $15.

1926 Buffalo Nickel Two-Feather Error

1926 Buffalo Nickel Two-Feather Error

Another error to have been found in the Denver-minted 1926 Buffalo nickels is the two-feather error. On these coins, the Indian chief’s headdress looks like it only has two feathers instead of three.

It looks like this mint error is a result of, once again, too much die polishing. Because of this, the longest feather in the headdress, positioned in the middle position of the three feathers, seems to have disappeared in some of the coins.

1926 Buffalo Nickel Doubled Die Obverse or Reverse Error

1926 Buffalo Nickel Doubled Die Obverse or Reverse Error
Image Credit: Heritage Auctions

A minor doubled die variety is known for the Philadelphia issue of the 1926 Buffalo nickel. The errors occur on either the obverse or the reverse.

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Doubling occurs when there is damage on the master die, creating a faint second image of some of the design elements overlapping with each other.

It’s usually most noticeable in letters and numbers. So, take your coin microscope out and assess your 1926 (P) Buffalo nickels to see if they have this error.

1926 Buffalo Nickel FAQs

Where is the mint mark on a 1926 Buffalo head nickel?

If your 1926 Buffalo nickel was minted in either Denver or San Francisco, you’ll see a tiny letter called a mint mark on the reverse of the coin, just underneath the words “Five Cents.” Coins struck in Denver will have a tiny “D” in that area, and Frisco-minted coins will have an “S” mint mark.

How do I know if my Buffalo nickel is worth anything?

The value of 1926 Buffalo nickels depends highly on whether they were circulated or uncirculated.

Circulated coins, which are more worn and have smoothened over the years, can sell today for anywhere between $0.50 and $4,150. Mint-state, uncirculated 1926 Buffalo nickel coins, on the other hand, can go up to a whopping $135,000!

What is the mintage of a 1926 S buffalo nickel?

The San Francisco Mint had the lowest mintage of the Buffalo nickel in any Mint in 1926. That year, Frisco created barely a million coins, the total number falling at just 970,000. This makes 1926 S Buffalo nickels insanely rare, and therefore, immensely valuable today.

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