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Design Flaw Keeps Buffalo Nickel Prices Up
By Paul M. Green

A coin does not have to be rare to be interesting and that is probably a good way to describe the 1924-D Buffalo nickel. While it's not a rare date, there are some interesting parts to its story that may well influence its price today.

Of course, not standing out is an excellent way to get overlooked and that was certainly the case in 1924. It must be remembered that the United States was still busily cranking out Peace dollars then. Since the Pittman Act of 1918 had seen the melting of some 270 million silver dollars for the backing of Silver Certificates, the minting of new dollars to replace those was required. New silver dollars would keep some collectors busy and so would commemoratives, which were increasing in numbers and frequency.

In a 1996 Long Beach Heritage Auction, the 1924-D was represented in roll quantity. The collection was traced to the Connecticut State Library in Hartford, which had been acquiring coins over the course of decades. It started with an impressive collection donated by Joseph Mitchelson but was later expanded by a curator who, following state law, added coins in the 1920s. These included rolls of 1924-D and 1925-D Buffalo nickels.

In fact, the Connecticut State Library might have been one of very few places actually saving the 1924-D. It is likely that most other Buffalo nickel dates generally circulated, which was not good because, like the others, the 1924-D was likely to lose its date that was too high on the obverse. That makes the 1924-D an $8 coin in G-4 today and that is higher than might be expected based on the mintage, but that is where the lost dates play a role in making even a G-4 tougher than might be expected.

In Mint State, the 1924-D despite the rolls turns out to be slightly tougher than some dates with lower mintages. However, in general, it is not one of the higher dates of the period, with a price of $375 in MS-60 and $4,950 in MS-65. Those prices are up slightly from it's 1998 listing of $280 in MS-60 and $3,400 in MS-65. Clearly the increase in MS-65 is greater, showing the more intense competition for top grade Buffalo nickels.

What some do not realize is that, despite relatively low prices, the numbers of top grade Buffalo nickels are not large. In the case of the 1924-D, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation reports just 16 in MS-65 and a single coin in MS-66. The Professional Coin Grading Service total is 62 examples in MS-65 and again just a single coin in MS-66.

Under the circumstances, it is hard to feel that the 1924-D is too expensive at its current prices in MS-65. In fact, with fewer than 100 known in that grade and many of them likely to have been repeat submissions, the 1924-D looks to be a good deal at its current levels, as the rolls are long gone and the supply of the 1924-D in top grades appears to be very modest, at best.


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