1924-S Buffalo Nickel

The Buffalo Nickel is a truly American coin. Designed by James Earle Fraser, it has an iconic Native American chief on the obverse and an American bison on the reverse, typifying our American Western heritage. First minted in 1913, it became very popular with the American public very quickly.

Production on the 1924 San Francisco Buffalo Nickel began late in the year, in October, as there was an overabundance of these coins at the mint. Only 1.437 million coins were struck, making it the third-lowest mintage of the entire series.

Especially at the branch mints, the reusing of reverse dies became a serious problem since they weren’t dated and could be reused over and over again. The dies would be polished multiple times to sharpen the detail but they would be used until they crumbled. As the dies eroded away, you could see small bumps on the struck coin.

As this 1924-S Buffalo Nickel was difficult to locate, in any grade, some enterprising criminals decided to begin to counterfeit these coins. One way was to add an “S” mintmark to a 1924 Philadelphia coin. The other, more popular method, was to change a 1924-D Denver coin from a “D” to an “S”. With over 5 million Denver coins minted, this was the preferred method of deception.

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