How Much is a 1928 Buffalo Nickel Worth (Price Chart)

Do you want to buy a Buffalo nickel coin? The 5-cent coin is an iconic currency with an intriguing fact file. As part of the buffalo nickel series of coins designed by James Fraser, it features a Native American on the obverse and a buffalo on the reverse. It is 75% copper, hence a preference of many numismatists who have a knack for high copper content.

The 1928 Buffalo nickel value is 5 cents at face value. At a pawnshop, it sells for as much as $1,250 in certified MS+ condition. The Buffalo Nickel weighs 5 grams, contains 75% copper and 25% nickel. 

This article helps you understand the 1928 Buffalo nickel, from the history of design to its unique features. We also highlight specific values based on condition, special qualities, and mintage.


Summary of the 1928 Buffalo Nickel

  • Coin Date: 1928-S
  • Denomination: 5 cents ($0.05)
  • Design: MS
  • Mintage: 6,936,000
  • Coinage: Buffalo Nickels, Type 2 (FIVE CENTS in Recess)
  • Coin Series: Buffalo Nickels
  • Coinage Years: From 1913 to 1938
  • Composition: 75% copper; 25% nickel
  • Strike Type: Business type
  • Diameter: 21.2 mm wide
  • Weight: 5 grams
  • Designer: Sculptor James Earle Fraser
  • Edge: Plain edge


What Is the 1928 Buffalo Nickel?

It is a five-cent copper-nickel coin struck by the United States to beautify the appearance of the coinages in circulation. Sculptor James Fraser designed the 1928 Buffalo Nickel, featuring a Bison and a profile bust of a Native American. It is sometimes referred to as the Indian Head Cent.

History of the 1928 Buffalo Nickel

History of the 1928 Buffalo Nickel

The US mints struck the Buffalo nickel series between 1913 and 1938 to replace the Liberty head design. Previously, the US mints redesigned other five coins between 1907-1909. Therefore, the mint commissioned famous sculptor James Earle Fraser to create unique designs for the proposed nickel coin. Impressed by Fraser’s initial plans, the US mints received approval to strike the Buffalo nickel series.

Initially, there was a slight delay, following objections from the Hobbs Manufacturing Company. Despite the company’s protests, the US secretary of Treasury issued the first Buffalo Nickel in 1913. James Fraser designed both faces of the Buffalo nickel as part of Roosevelt’s renaissance of the old American coinage. His first design featured a buffalo on a small mound of dirt, with the coin’s denominational value above the Buffalo.

Unfortunately, Buffalo Nickels didn’t circulate for long. Despite several attempts by the US mints to adjust its designs, the coins’ dates notoriously faded during circulation. So, after 25 years of circulation, the Buffalo Nickel bowed out of the race in 1938.

Reason for Minting

Reason for Minting

The US mints struck the Buffalo Nickel out of a dire need to improve the artistic appeal of the American coinage. The then-President Theodore Roosevelt expressed dissatisfaction with the unappealing design of the coins used then.

As a result, the mint hired sculptor Saint-Gaudens to redesign all US coins. The sculptor redesigned a few coins before passing on suddenly. Other attempts to redesign the coins did not bear much fruit until 1902, when the Buffalo Nickel received official adoption.


In 1928, three mints received an order to produce the iconic Buffalo nickel. They include Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver. The main mint had the highest mintage of 23,411,000 Buffalo nickels, while Denver produced the least at 6,436,000. The San Francisco mint struck 6,936,000 Buffalo nickel coins.

In total, the three mints struck a remarkable 36,783,000 Buffalo nickels in 1928. As a result, there is an abundance of 1928 Buffalo nickels in circulated condition.


Features of the 1928 Buffalo Nickel

The 1928 Buffalo Nickel has distinct features symbolic of James Fraser’s artistic skills. Like other coinages, it features letters and images on both the obverse and reverse sides.


1928 Buffalo Nickel Obverse

The portrait features a profile bust of a Native American. According to numismatic researchers, the image consists of different native chiefs from old age America.

The obverse features a right-facing tribal chief occupying the central portion of the coin.

Slightly above his right shoulder is the coin’s year of issue (1928) in a straight line of text. Above his frontal face is an inscription “LIBERTY’’ running clockwise along the right margin.


1928 Buffalo Nickel Reverse

The reverse has the image of an American buffalo charging downward and standing on a small mound of dirt. Many numismatists believe Fraser borrowed inspiration from a buffalo at a zoo in New York City. Dubbed the ‘Black Diamond,’ the Buffalo would later become a long-lasting feature of the nickel coin. Above the Buffalo is the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” along the upper rim. The coin’s denominational value (FIVE CENTS) appears at the bottom edge of the currency in a straight line, block text.

Mottos and Slogans on the 1928 Nickel

Similar to most American coinages, the 1928 Buffalo nickel has famous slogans;


The phrase comes from a Latin word that stands for “out of many, one. The Latin phrase strongly indicates the country’s determination to remain united despite diverse beliefs and backgrounds. It also signifies the ability to form a nation out of different states.


Liberty is a mythical symbol of freedom and democracy in America. The motto originates from the Liberty statue in New York, which was a donation from France.

  • Mint marks

The mint mark is a distinctive feature of America’s coinage. It shows the origin of the mint that struck the currency. The 1928 Buffalo nickel has two significant mint marks; “D” for coins struck at Denver and “S” for coins struck at San Francisco. Traditionally, the main mint at Philadelphia did not include a mint mark for Buffalo nickels struck at the main mint.

  • Metal Used

The US Mints struck the 1928 Buffalo nickel using 75% copper and 25% nickel. So, if you are looking for a coin worth its weight in copper, consider the Buffalo nickel. The 1928 Buffalo nickel is a light piece of metal coinage. It weighs 5 grams and has a diameter of 21.2 mm.


1928 Nickel Value

1928 Nickel Value

The 1928 Buffalo nickel has a relatively high starting value in uncirculated conditions. It is, therefore, worth preserving as a bit of treasure in your coin box. Read on to understand the value of the coin based on various market rates.


Comparison Table Showing the Value of the 1928 Buffalo Nickel

                      Condition/Year 1928 1928 D 1928 S
Uncirculated $28 $42 $165
Very Fine $10 $27 $23
Fine $1.82 $3 $2
Good $0.80 $0.72 $0.87


Denominational Value

The 1928 Buffalo nickel currency is worth five cents ($0.05) at face value. The coin’s denominational value appears at the bottom edge of the currency in a straight line, block text.

How Much Is the Metal in 1928 Buffalo Nickel Worth?

The 1928 Buffalo nickel contains 75% copper hence worth its weight in copper content. The current spot price for copper is $0.26 per ounce. Therefore, the buffalo nickel has a melt value of $0.0600. However, according to coin experts, the melt value depends on the copper spot price. It may therefore change over time.

How Much Is the 1928 Nickel Worth at the Pawnshop?

At a pawnshop, numismatists attach value for a Buffalo nickel based on its condition. In average condition, it is worth $1.95 and $35 or more in uncirculated condition. If you have a professionally certified MS+ buffalo nickel, pawnbrokers can award you $1,250 at an auction.


Factors that Determine the 1928 Nickel Value

Factors that Determine the 1928 Nickel Value

Buffalo nickels have a relatively stable value with only a slight valuation. However, coin collectors prefer a Buffalo silver in pristine condition. For high values, your coin should have an original luster with the most prominent features intact. Below are factors that determine the value of the 1928 Buffalo Nickel coin:


The condition of your 1928 Buffalo nickel plays a critical role in determining its worth. Coin collectors are increasingly looking for the best-preserved Buffalo nickels for high prices. An expert grading company also assigns value to the coin based on images, letter descriptions, and general appearance.

Below is an agreed value system for the 1928 Buffalo nickel:


An uncirculated 1928 Buffalo nickel never circulated after mintage. It has no evident wear on both surfaces. For instance, the high points on the cheeks of the profile image are in their original condition. In addition, the coin has a shiny luster and an attractive eye appeal.

Extremely Fine

In this grade, the coin doesn’t have the original shiny luster. However, it still retains well-defined prominent features. It may also have slight wear on the hair details of the profile image, the upper back, and the frontal shoulder.


It has visible signs of wear out on the fur that covers the Buffalo’s head. Additionally, there is no visual detail between the hoof and the top portion of the Buffalo’s shoulder. The year of issue and the high features on the coin also appear worn out.


In this condition, the Buffalo nickel still has a bold design. However, there is significant wear on the year of issue and most iconic features.

Special Qualities

Coin collectors appreciate special qualities and unique varieties of the Buffalo nickel. So, be sure to identify any distinctive features because they can significantly increase the currency’s value.

For instance, an error coin that appears different from others of the same type and quality is unique. Examples include three-legged nickel buffalo, double die varieties, and eight over seven double dies. If you have an error coin, be sure to preserve it because collectors are willing to pay higher prices for unique attributes.

Mint mark

Mint mark

The mint mark also plays a role in the value of the coin. Buffalo nickel coins without a mint mark came from the Philadelphia mint. Unfortunately, they are abundant in circulation due to a highly high mintage, hence low in value. The mint mark “S” denotes a Buffalo nickel struck at San Francisco mint. The mint stands out with the highest valued Buffalo nickels.



1928 Buffalo Nickel FAQs

1. Does the 1928 Buffalo series have proof coins?

Unlike other coin series, the Buffalo nickel only has seven proof coins. Most buffalo proofs still exist, although very rare. However, the US mints did not produce Buffalo nickel proofs in 1928.

2. Where is the mint mark on the 1928 Buffalo nickel?

The mint mark is a significant feature of the Buffalo nickel. It appears on the reverse side of the coin, below the (FIVE CENTS) denominational value.

3. How do I know if my Buffalo nickel is uncirculated?

An uncirculated Buffalo nickel should have an original mint luster on all the high points. If any of the high points lack mint luster, it is circulated.


Winding Up: Is the 1928 Nickel Value Worth It?

The Buffalo nickel series brought a stunning change to America’s coinage. It replaced the old Liberty head that lacked artistic appeal. Although it has a lower face value, the coin is worth $30-$90 in uncirculated MS+ condition. A brilliant silver luster, mark-free glowing surface, uncirculated condition, and unique mint errors can guarantee you whopping prices.

If you have questions about your 1923 Buffalo nickel value, contact us.

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