Most Expensive Coins

1926-S Buffalo Nickel: A Guide for Coin Enthusiasts

1926-S Buffalo Nickel

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

The 1926-S Buffalo Nickel is a prized coin for collectors because of its low mintage and rarity of the coins. With only 970,000 pieces minted, it stands as the rarest regular issue in the Buffalo Nickel series. Its value can be significant, particularly in higher grades, making it a sought-after piece among numismatists.

History of 1926-S Buffalo Nickel

When the 1926-S Buffalo Nickel was 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, the 1926-S Buffalo Nickel coins are rare in circulated and uncirculated grades.

Many 1926-S Buffalo nickels have a weak strike because of 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.


  • Mintage: The 1926-S Buffalo Nickel was minted in San Francisco with a total mintage of 970,000 coins.
  • Release: Compared to its Philadelphia comparable, which had a mintage of more than 44 million coins, the 1926-S was produced in smaller numbers.
  • Popularity: The 1926-S Buffalo Nickel was largely issued into circulation, and few were saved in mint condition, contributing to its scarcity today.
  • Mixture of the coin: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
  • Obverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
  • Reverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
  • Weight: 5 grams
  • Diameter: 21.2 mm
  • Edge: Plain


Obverse: A Native American woman’s profile can be seen facing right on the Buffalo Nickel’s obverse. Three different chiefs, each representing a Native American nation, have been combined to create this image. The date is inscribed on the Native American figure’s shoulder, and the word “LIBERTY” is carved to the right of the image. At the date is the designer’s initial “F” for James Earle Fraser.

Reverse: The reverse shows an American bison, or buffalo, facing left and standing atop a mound. The words “E PLURIBUS UNUM” are inscribed just over the buffalo’s back, while the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” arc around the highest point of the coin over the buffalo. The amount marked “FIVE CENTS” is situated below the mound. The denomination of San Francisco-minted coins is indicated by a “S” mintmark.

Rarity and Condition

  • Rarity: The 1926-S is the rarest Buffalo Nickel due to its low mintage. It is rare in all grades and extremely rare in Mint State (MS) conditions.
  • Condition: Many 1926-S nickels suffer from weak strikes and die erosion. Collectors often find coins with worn details and less sharpness.
  • Counterfeits: Counterfeit 1926-S nickels are common, with some Philadelphia nickels altered to add the “S” mintmark. Genuine coins can be identified by sharp details and lack of raised lumps, which are common in forgeries.

Value of 1926-S Buffalo Nickel

  • Circulated Condition: A 1926-S Buffalo Nickel in poor to average condition can sell for about $15 to $350.
  • Fine to Extremely Fine Condition: Values range from $350 in good condition to $900 in extremely good condition.
  • Uncirculated Condition: Coins in AU58 condition can fetch over $4,000, while MS62 coins can sell for around $6,900. MS64 examples are valued at almost $14,000, and gem condition coins (MS65) can exceed $70,000. The highest-graded coins (MS66) are valued at approximately $135,000.

Also Read – 1964 Jefferson Nickel: A Complete Guide


A wonderful addition to any collection, the 1926-S Buffalo Nickel is rare as well as important in history. It has high worth because of its small mintage and high demand, especially for higher grades. Coin collectors should use care when dealing with fakes and confirm authenticity, especially by using NGC-certified coins. In spite of the difficulties in locating well-preserved examples, the 1926-S Buffalo Nickel is still highly sought-after in the numismatic world.

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