Coin Value Finder » 1930 Buffalo Nickel Value: are “S”, No mint mark worth money?

1930 Buffalo Nickel Value: are “S”, No mint mark worth money?

The 1930 Buffalo Nickels are some of the most interesting coins ever made at the United States Mint.

If you are new to coin collecting, you should know that a 1930 buffalo nickel is an excellent deal in the long run.

But before talking about the coin and how much it can cost, we must address all the details on how to identify a valuable coin and what conditions must be met so that it does not lose its value.

In this article, we will give you a complete guide on the 1930 Buffalo Nickel and we will help you to identify the basic patterns to be able to catch a name or at least know if they are valuable or not.

1930 Buffalo Nickel Details

1930 Buffalo Nickel Details

  • Category: Buffalo Five Cents (1913-1938)
  • Mint: Philadelphia, San Francisco
  • Mintage: 28,284,900
  • Obverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
  • Reverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
  • Composition: 75%Copper, 25%Nickel
  • Weight: 5g
  • Diameter: 21.2mm
  • Edge: Plain

The 1930 Buffalo nickel is one of the most special coins in the United States. It was done in a period when the government was looking to give the mint a little more artistic merit.

This is how, at the beginning of the 20th century, the project of renewing several coins with completely new designs began. The 1930 nickel is the first coin with the face of an American Indian on the obverse.

Before the buffalo Nickel, an attempt was made to make a Native American-themed coin, this is how the Indian Head was created, but that coin was not represented by an American Indian, but was the face of Lady Liberty with a headdress of feathers of an American chief.

The Indian head has been criticized at the time since the image is that of a Caucasian woman wearing a feathered headdress reserved for heads of American tribes.

However, with Nickel, the face of a true American antique is proposed for the first time. This coin came at the same time that the Pratt-Bigelow gold coin, the two of them with the head of an Indian. On the reverse, it has a buffalo, a very characteristic animal of the United States, which represents strength and union.

This coin is composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel. The coin was controversial, and many people reported that it wore out easily.

Despite being a beautiful coin praised for its artistic design and meaning, it was not in circulation for long, and the US government returned to change it after the 25-year minimum to change a coin’s design had expired.

This would be the second and last coin with an American Indian on the obverse, after this time coins with the faces of former presidents began to be minted.

The design that follows this coin is the face of former President George Washington, who had decided not to put real people’s faces on the coin. This was to differentiate itself from the European monarchies from which the United States had become independent.


The obverse of this coin features the face of an American Indian. Many theories have been speculated about who was the model for the Native American face.

The son of a last tribal chief claimed to be the face on which the coin was inspired and until the day he died he claimed to be the model, he even earned money taking photos and giving autographs.

But the designer of the coin sank the issue, clarifying that he made the design based on 3 portraits of American chiefs, including Iron Tail, a great Indian chief who earned the respect and admiration of his time.

The 1930 nickel features the Indian’s face with three feathers linked in a mohawk-style braid. The word LIBERTY is at the top right and the bottom left is the minting date.

This coin was printed in San Francisco and Philadelphia. There is no mintmark for the Philadelphia coins, but those minted in San Francisco are distinguished by a letter S as a mintmark.


The reverse of the coin features a buffalo grazing on a field of pastures. The buffalo was a very important animal in Native American culture. They were totemic animals that represented unity and strength.

They were animals that were identified with great strength and leadership spirit. So the proposal to have a buffalo instead of an American eagle was very well accepted by the United States mint.

The coin has the phrase UNITED STATES OF AMERICA at the top of the coin, E PLURIBUS UNUM at the top right, and FIVE CENTS at the bottom, just below the buffalo figure.

E PLURIBUS UNUM is a Latin phrase that means: one of many. It is a classic motto on United States coins.

Also Read: 15 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money

1930 Buffalo Nickel Value Chart

Quality 1930 Philadelphia Buffalo Nickel 1930 San Francisco Buffalo Nickel
Good $1.4 $1.4
Very Good $1.7 $1.7
Fine $2.7 $2.7
Very Fine $4.4 $4.4
Extremely Fine $12 $16
Uncirculated $22 $38
MS 60 $38 $72
MS63 $81 $131

1930 Buffalo Nickel Value and Varieties Guides

The 1930 Buffalo Nickel is a very particular currency since it was coined in cattle. Due to the bad economic situation that was going on, the country only coined 28 million coins, a number well below the usual one.

In fact, the United States Currency House has always been helped by the houses of the coin in Denver and San Francisco but for the Nickel of 1930, it only had the House of Coins of San Francisco for production.

1930 Philadelphia Buffalo Nickel

1930 Philadelphia Buffalo Nickel

  • Category: Buffalo Five Cents (1913-1938)
  • Mint: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 22,849,000
  • Obverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
  • Reverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
  • Composition: 75%Copper, 25%Nickel
  • Weight: 5g
  • Diameter: 21.2mm
  • Edge: Plain

22,849,000 coins were coined at the Philadelphia coins house and identified because they do not carry a Mint Mark anywhere.

The problem with the Niqueles of 1930 is that they had problems during their production, confirming that they are currencies that are easily detested to contact.

That is why most specimens that have been circulated are of a quality that will not be worth it. You can find this currency in the market from a dollar to $ 22 if you have an uncirculated currency.

But the value of this currency can ascend to 100 dollars as a gem and it is known that one of the most expensive specimens was sold for $ 3,250.

1930 San Francisco Buffalo Nickel

1930 San Francisco Buffalo Nickel

  • Category: Buffalo Five Cents (1913-1938)
  • Mint: Philadelphia, San Francisco
  • Mintage: 5,435,000
  • Obverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
  • Reverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
  • Composition: 75%Copper, 25%Nickel
  • Weight: 5g
  • Diameter: 21.2mm
  • Edge: Plain

The San Francisco Mint produced only one-five of the twenty-eight million coins minted during 1930. This makes the number of surviving coins in good condition from the San Francisco Mint one of the most desired and sought-after coins for all kinds of collectors.

The coins printed in San Francisco are distinguished because they have the letter S as their mark. You can find the mark just below the phrase FIVE CENTS. To be more precise, between the end of the word FIVE and the beginning of the word CENTS.

These coins, despite being much rarer and scarcer in low qualities, cost almost the same as a Philadelphia coin, but it is in the higher qualities where the value of this coin begins to stand out.

You can buy a coin in good condition for two dollars, but uncirculated coins can be worth ten times more. Gem-quality coins from the 1930s cost several thousand dollars. This coin has been sold in MS 67 quality for 15 thousand dollars.

1930 Proof Buffalo Nickel

Most of the coins have test lots that are made for collectors and as gifts for people close to the government or who had some connection with the mint.

But 1930 was a year when the recession hit very hard and for some years measures had to be taken to avoid spending as usual and get through the economic crisis.

This was reflected in the coins. Those of 1930 did not have test batches, being one of the singular exceptions among coins.

That is also why gem-quality coins are so desired and can be sold for thousands of dollars since very few specimens have survived to this day.

What this coin does have are several minting errors, which we will see later, so that you know how to identify which errors to look for and which ones are valuable to collectors.

Also Read: Top 110 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money

1930 Buffalo Nickel History

The history of this coin began in the administration of President Roosevelt, who complained about the little artistic value that American coins had until then.

He started a project to change the design of several coins that already had more than 25 years of circulation. One of the many designs contemplated nickel.

Roosevelt hired the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign 5 coins, but in the middle of the process, the artist fell ill, dying a few years later, before being able to complete the designs of the 5 coins.

But the project was already in progress and above all in the minds of many people, so it was natural that the following steps followed up on this.

That was how in 1909 the project for a new coin was reactivated, but the design had nothing to do with the Indian head that it is now. At that time the design was that of the face of former President George Washington.

It was not a custom in the United States to put the faces of real people on the coin, but after the minting of the Lincoln Penny this tradition, promoted by George Washington himself, was lost.

But there was a change in position at the end of 1909 and the new administration was not happy with the result of the Lincoln Penny, so they hired the sculptor James Earle Fraser to take charge of the design.

The coin entered circulation in 1913 and during the intervening four years underwent several modifications, mostly in the thickness of the letters and minor changes in the main designs.

But the biggest problem the coin had to face was its wear. Minting them was a big problem since the dies wore out 5 times faster than normal and when they came into circulation the critics said that it was an excellent coin as long as it was new, but that it would be a disaster with repeated use.

And they were not wrong, since this coin ages very badly and many details are easily lost. Opinions regarding the coin are divided, as some praise it for its design, while others criticize it for its complicated design and how impractical it is for a circulating coin.

1930 Buffalo Nickel Grading

It is important that you understand that these coins have a degree of conservation. That way we can know how valuable they are. It is also a coin that has been minted in two mints, so the mint mark will affect its valuation in the same way. So that you understand a little more about the degrees of this coin, we leave you a video that deals with it in depth.

List of 1930 Buffalo Nickel Errors

Errors in coins arise from problems in minting them. In the video below, you will be able to see in detail all the aspects that you must take into account to know if you have one of these errors. We also will explain the most common errors that you should look for.

1. The double matrix obverse

The obverse of a double matrix is called the duplicate error that presents the coin in the upper part. It is known of one of these coins sold in normal conditions for 100 dollars. The price was not higher as the coin did not even reach the rank of uncirculated, otherwise, it would have been worth thousands of dollars.

2. The two-feather coin

1930 Buffalo Nickel Two Feathers

This coin is only found in the San Francisco mintage. When the coin was polished, the machine cut one of the feathers from the Indian’s head. This is how some coins appear to have only two feathers instead of three.

No high-grade coins of this type have been found, but coins like this in poor condition have been known to sell for as much as $200 and we’re not even uncirculated.

1930 Buffalo Nickel FAQ

Are 1930 Buffalo nickels worth anything?

The 1930 nickel Buffalo can be purchased for a very low price. The most basic ones cost 2 dollars while those that were not in circulation can cost up to 70 dollars. But on the collector’s market, gem-quality coins can fetch thousands of dollars.

How do I know if my Buffalo nickel is rare?

The 1930 nickel suffered several errors. To tell if you have a rare coin, look at the top of the obverse. In general, the coins with errors present the upper part of the repeated coin.

You can also try looking for coins that have the face of an Indian with two feathers instead of three. This is a well-known bug and is coveted by collectors.

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