» 1928 Buffalo Nickel Error List & Value

1928 Buffalo Nickel Error List & Value

1928 Buffalo Nickel Value

If you have a 1928 Buffalo nickel, you might wonder how much it is worth. While nickels from 1928 in very good condition are only worth a couple of dollars, uncirculated coins in the mint state can be worth thousands of dollars. How can you tell if you possess one of those valuable coins?

A coin’s value depends on how rare it is and what condition it is in among other factors. In this article, you will find the values of the different grades and mint varieties of the 1928 Buffalo nickel together with information on coin grading and errors on the nickels from 1928.

1928 Buffalo Nickel Value Chart

Mint Mark Very Good Extra Fine About Uncirculated Uncirculated MS60 Uncirculated MS67
1928 No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel Value $2 $14 $26 $36 $3,200 – $4,200
1928 D Buffalo Nickel Value $2.80 $51 $55 $67 $18,000 – $22,000
1928 S Buffalo Nickel Value $2.30 $29 $121 $293 $30,000 – $36,000

Before American coins started to feature portraits of real people, they used to have images of symbolic figures, such as the Lady Liberty. Instead of the high-relief coins, we are used to today, the early American coins appeared almost two-dimensional because they were produced in such low relief. This made them cheaper and easier to produce.

The change in the style and type of coins began in 1904 when Theodore Roosevelt, the American President at the time, wanted the US Mint to produce more artistic coins. To meet the requirements, new artists were brought in, including James Eaerle Fraser, whose design is on the nickel, and Victor David Brenner who designed the Lincoln penny.

The US Mint produced Buffalo nickels from 1913 until 1938 and they were minted at three facilities: Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. The coins were discontinued as soon as the minimum 25-year period was over because they proved to be difficult coins to mint and the dates would wear off easily in circulation.

Today, Buffalo nickels are popular among collectors. Since the discontinuation of Buffalo nickels, the design has been used in some commemorative coin series, including the gold and silver American Buffalo coins.

1928 No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel Value

1928 No Mint Mark Buffalo Nickel Value
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There were 23,411,000 Buffalo nickels minted at the Philadelphia Mint in 1928. You can tell these nickels apart from the other mint varieties from the absence of a mint mark. Most of the nickels minted in Philadelphia were low-quality coins and not many have survived in mint state until today.

The price of a 1928 no-mint mark Buffalo nickel in very good condition is about $2 and extra fine specimens sell for around $14. Lower-graded uncirculated 1928 no-mint mark nickels are still only worth about $36 but an MS67-graded coin could be worth over $4,000.

An example of a 1928 no-mint mark Buffalo nickel selling for more than the average valuation, is an MS67-graded coin sold at a Bowers & Merena auction. The nickel was entered into the auction in 2004 and sold for $11,500.

The Obverse of the 1928 Buffalo Nickel

The Buffalo nickel, which was designed by James Earle Fraser, is also known as the Indian Head nickel because of the portrait of an Indian chief it features on the obverse. The idea behind the design was to pay tribute to American history.

It is believed that the portrait was not based on a single Native American chief but a combination of the portraits of three different chiefs: the Chief of the Cheyenne Two Moons, the leader of the Seneca John Big Tree, and the Chief of Oglala Lakota Iron Tail.

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The chief has his hair in a braid and wears three decorative bird feathers. The date is near the bottom rim to the left of the braid. The word LIBERTY is in front of the right-facing portrait, starting from near the forehead and finishing just before the tip of the nose. Looking very closely, you can see the capital letter F below the date. It stands for the last name of the designer.

The Reverse of the 1928 Buffalo Nickel

At the back of the coin, known as the reverse, is an image of a bison stretching from rim to rim. The American bison is often called a buffalo, which gives the coin its nickname. The bison stands on a mound and its muscular body is clearly depicted. There is a hump on the bison’s back.

Running along the top rim is the country name UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Above the bison’s back and under the word AMERICA, is the Latin motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. The coin’s denomination, FIVE CENTS, is below the mound the bison is standing on. On D and S minted coins, the mint mark is on the right side of the denomination.

Other 1928 Buffalo Nickel Features

The composition used to make the 1934 nickels contained 75% of copper and 25% of nickel. The coin’s diameter is 21.21 millimeters (0.835 inches). It weighs 5 grams (0.176 ounces) and is 1.95 millimeters (0.076 inches) thick. The Buffalo nickels are round coins with plain edges.

1928 D Buffalo Nickel Value

1928 D Buffalo Nickel Value

In 1928, the Denver Mint minted only a fraction of the nickels minted at the Philadelphia Mint. Because there were only 6,436,000 1928 D Buffalo nickels issued, they are valued higher than the no-mint mark nickels produced that year.

An S-minted coin in an AU condition is worth around $55, which is more than twice the valuation of a 1928 no-mint mark nickel in the same condition. The difference is even bigger between MS67-graded nickels. A D-mint nickel is potentially worth five times the Philadelphia nickel. However, nickels minted in San Francisco are valued even higher at the top grades.

The auction record for a 1928 D Buffalo nickel is $17,250. It was achieved in a Heritage Auctions sale in 2021. The coin was graded at MS67 by the Professional Coin Grading Services.

1928 S Buffalo Nickel Value

1928 S Buffalo Nickel Value

The most valuable 1928 Buffalo nickels are those that were minted at the San Francisco facility. Despite the facility producing 6,936,000 nickels, slightly more than Denver, the S-minted 1928 nickels are harder to find in the higher grades, which increases their value above the other mint varieties.

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The reason behind this is that the entire mintage from San Francisco was released into circulation and used in transactions. As a result, most 1928 S nickels are either gone or no longer recognizable.

At the lower grades, S-minted coins are more expensive than those with no mint marks but less expensive than Denver-minted nickels. However, as soon as we look at the better grades, from about uncirculated upwards, the prices of 1928 S Buffalo nickels jump up.

An MS67-graded Buffalo nickel is worth between $30,000 and $36,000. The auction record, which was achieved in 2009, is $46,000. The record-breaking 1928 S Buffalo nickel was graded at MS67 and sold at a Heritage Auctions sale.

Production Problems

When new artists were brought in to make the American coins more artistic, the Chief Mint Engraver Charles Barber could foresee problems with the elaborate designs. All the details and the multiple high-relief points made minting more difficult and expensive.

Barber’s concerns were not listened to and the first Buffalo nickels were officially released into circulation in March 1913. Within the first week of the coins being issued, Barber revoiced his concerns.

Because of the many design elements on the Buffalo nickel, the dies wore out quicker than before during coin production. He estimated that the dies were breaking and wearing out over three times faster than the dies used for minting Liberty Head nickels.

The minting issues were not the only problem with the Buffalo nickels. They would also wear out faster in circulation than previous coins. In particular, the denomination and the minting date would often wear away completely.

Because of all these issues, the US Mint was more than happy to replace the Buffalo with the Jefferson nickel as soon as they were allowed to.

1928 Buffalo Nickel Grading

The official grading of all old coins, including the 1928 Buffalo nickel is done by professional grading companies. The coin graders at these services use an agreed scale to determine the value of the coin.

Coins in poor condition are at the lowers end of the scale with a grade of PO1. The other end of the scale is MS70. This grading will only be given to coins that are in perfect condition. To learn more about grading Buffalo nickels, you can watch this video from Coin Study.

Rare 1928 Buffalo Nickel Error Lists

1928 Buffalo Nickel Two Feathers Error

1928 Buffalo Nickel Two Feathers Error
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Some of the most popular error coins among the 1928 Buffalo nickels are those with the ”two feathers” error. This error can also be found on Buffalo nickels from other years and is the result of either hasty or extreme die-polishing of the third feather. It is possible that the error occurred during an attempt to fix a previous error with the die.

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These error coins, which have two instead of three feathers, can only be found on the S mint-marked coins. These coins are popular among collectors but the exact value of a two-feather error coin depends on its overall condition.

1928 Buffalo Nickel 3/4 Reversed Horn Error

1928 Buffalo Nickel 3/4 Reversed Horn Error

The reversed horn error is another type of coin error that can only be found on Buffalo nickels. Look for this error on the reverse side of the coin and focus on the buffalo’s horn. On the error coins, the horn is shorter than it should be. It is possible that the error resulted from an off-center strike.

1928 Buffalo Nickel Lamination Error

1928 Buffalo Nickel Lamination Error

Some 1928 D nickels have a visible lamination error, which could have been caused by contaminated alloy that led to the metal separating on the surface. As the metal separated, it caused the surface to crack and flake, forming vertical lines on the design.

1928 Buffalo Nickel Doubled Die Error

1928 Buffalo Nickel Doubled Die Error

Some Buffalo nickels minted in 1928 have an error known as the doubled die error. This means the blank coins were struck more than once with the die leading to a doubling on some parts of the design.

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On the 1928 nickels, look for doubling on the numerals and letters on the reverse of the coin. A prominent doubled die error can increase the coin’s value with lower-grade coins selling for a few hundred and higher grade-coins for several thousands of dollars.

1928 Buffalo Nickel Frequently Asked Questions

How much is a 1928 Buffalo nickel worth?

The value of a 1928 Buffalo nickel depends on a range of factors, mainly its overall condition and its rarity. While coins that have been in circulation but are still in good condition sell from a couple of dollars upwards, mint-state, uncirculated nickels can sell for thousands.

The best way to find out the exact value of a Buffalo nickel from 1928 is to get it professionally valued. However, you should do your homework first and only send your coin for valuation if you feel confident of its value as valuations can be expensive.

How rare is a 1928 Buffalo nickel?

The rarity of a 1928 Buffalo nickel depends on its condition and mint mark. For example, nickels minted in Philadelphia in good condition are quite common and are only worth around $2.

On the other hand, 1928 nickels in mint condition, especially those minted in San Francisco and Denver, are much rarer. Because it is not easy to find them, they are highly valued with best-preserved coins priced in tens of thousands of dollars.

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