How Much is a 1930 Buffalo Nickel Worth? (Price Chart)

Buffalo (Indian head) nickel is an American 5-cent coin minted from 1913 to 1938. It belongs to the most popular coins that came out of the American Mint ever. Even today, these nickels are highly desired pieces collectors look for on the coin market. Only two mints produced Buffalo nickels in 1930.

Most of the nearly 30,000,000 made Buffalo nickels were in circulation, so it can be tricky to find an uncirculated coin for your collection. One of the vital things to do before purchasing any of them is to know what the 1930 Buffalo Nickel value is on the current market, depending on its condition.

 

1930 Buffalo Nickel History

1930 Buffalo Nickel History

Wanting to beautify the look of American money, former President William Howard Taft hired sculptor James Earl Fraser to redesign the existing 5-cent coin.

Fraser’s design became known as Indian head or Buffalo nickel because the main design elements rely on the American Indians tradition. Plus, a buffalo is still a symbol of the Old West.

1930 Buffalo nickel

Location Year Minted Value
Philadelphia 1930 22,849,000 $2.38
San Francisco 1930 S 5,435,000 $2.91
Total / 28,284,000 /

An Indian head with braided hair and two feathers you can see in his hair is on the coin obverse. There is also the inscription LIBERTY and 1930, the minting year.

Interestingly, the Indian image wasn’t a particular Indian chief but a composite of a few Native Americans living in that period. The artist actually mixed several portraits based on Indians he met, including:

  • Iron Tail
  • Two Moons
  • One or two unknown warriors

His goal wasn’t to show a particular person but to spread an idea, and he managed to reach it. With both the Indian head and the buffalo, his nickel was totally American, and no one could mistake it with any other coin in use worldwide.

This nickel was the second and last specimen minted in the US with an Indian realistic portrait. The first was the Pratt-Bigelow (Indian head) gold coin minted in 1908 in two different series, half eagle and quarter eagle.

On the reverse, you can see a buffalo positioned in the coin’s central part. Above it is the inscription UNITED STATE OF AMERICA and the Latin saying E PLURIBUS UNUM. Beneath the buffalo is written the FIVE CENT, representing a coin value.

1930 Buffalo nickel

Face value 5 cents ($0.05)
Melt value 0.0612
Compound 75% copper and 25% nickel
Coin weight 0.1764 ounces (5 g)
Coin diameter 0.8346 inches (21.2 mm)
Coin thickness 0.0768 inches (1.95 mm)
Shape Round
Edge Plain

In the design first version, the buffalo stood on a hill, but two things led to a change in design:

  • The rapid reverse relief deterioration
  • The fact that dies used up three times faster than those used for Liberty head nickel production

As a result, the final design had a straight line instead of a mound to reduce wear. Unfortunately, these changes decreased the dies duration even more.

Mints increased the date numerals’ thickness, making them more long-lasting, but the problem wasn’t successfully solved. Nowadays, you will hardly find Buffalo nickels spent some time in circulation with the clearly visible date.

 

1930 Buffalo Nickel Types

1930 Buffalo Nickel Types

The stock market crash of 1929, the Great Depression, and the economic downturn had a substantial impact on American Mint production. That was the reason the total number of minted 1930 Buffalo Nickel was limited to only 28.2840,000 coins.

In 1930, only two state mints produced Buffalo nickel, including:

  • The Philadelphia mint produced Buffalo nickel without a particular mint mark
  • The San Francisco mint produced Buffalo nickel with an S mint mark

1930 Buffalo nickel value*

Quality 1930 1930 S
Good $1.4 $1.4
Very good $1.7 $1,7
Fine $2.7 $2.7
Very fine $4.4 $4.4
Extra fine $12 $16
About uncirculated $22 $38
MS 60 $38 $72
MS 63 $81 $131

*by USA Coin book

Like other Buffalo nickels, the 1930 coins were not well struck. The problem was that the matrices couldn’t strike a large coin quantity due to the prominent relief. Plus, the nickel surface was quickly worn out soon after the coin came into circulation.

However, collectors generally like to collect Buffalo nickel because they consider it a blend of beauty, value, and American tradition.

1930 Buffalo nickel without a mint mark

1930 Buffalo nickel without a mint mark

The Philadelphia mint produced 22,849,000 Buffalo nickels in 1930. There was no mint mark on this coin either, like on most others that came out of this mint.

1930 Buffalo nickel value*

Year Quality
Good Fine Extra fine Uncirculated
1930 $1.3 $2.5 $11 $20
1930 S $1.3 $2.5 $14 $35

*by JM Bullion

Although it is difficult to find this coin in a mint state, you can still buy a piece for an affordable price. The average nickel value with a good rating is around $1, while you need to set aside approximately $3,250 for a coin with an MS 67 grade.

1930 Buffalo nickel value*

Year Quality
Good Fine Extra fine Uncirculated
1930 $0. 75 $1.5 $9 $29
1930 S $0. 8 $2 $10 $36

*by CoinStudy

1930 S Buffalo nickel

1930 S Buffalo nickel
Image

The San Francisco mint produced only 5,435,000 Buffalo nickels that year. They have an S mark on the reverse below the inscription FIVE CENTS as a determinant of the place of production.

1930 Buffalo nickel value*

Quality 1930 1930 S
Good $0.5 /
Very good $1.2 $1.8
Fine $1.8 $1.8
Very fine $2.3 $2.8
Extra fine $3.25 /
About uncirculated / $23

*by Numista

Due to the lower coin quantity produced and because you are unlikely to find a specimen in top condition, some of them are costly. For instance, a 1930 S MS67 Buffalo nickel was sold for an impressive $15,000.

 

1930 Buffalo Nickel Grading

Assessing the coin condition is the first thing you need to do when buying a Buffalo nickel for your collection. Since most of these coins were in circulation, many are not in good condition nowadays. For this reason, collecting 1930 Buffalo nickel is not an easy task.

1930 Buffalo nickel value*

Coin Quality
Good Fine Extra fine Uncirculated
1930 $0.5 to $1 $1 to $1.25 $8 to $9 $24+
1930 S $0.5 to $1 $1 to $1.25 $9 to $10 $40+

*by Coinflation

The official evaluation, known as grading, means sending the coin to a professional company that does its condition assessment. Be prepared that this process will cost you money, so check your piece before sending it to ensure it is worth something.

Uncirculated Buffalo nickel

Uncirculated Buffalo nickel
Image

It is the highest and the most desirable coin rating for each collector. The piece with this rating doesn’t show any wear signs and looks completely new. The glow is present on the entire nickel surface, and its relief is intact.

The crucial thing is to check the Indian’s cheek and the buffalo’s front legs. You can be sure that the coin wasn’t in circulation if you notice a glow at those points.

1930 Buffalo Nickel value*

Quality 1930 1930 S
Good $0.7 $0.7
Very good $1.45 $1.45
Fine $2.4 $2.85
Very fine $3.8 $3.8
Extra fine $11.5 $14.3
Uncirculated $19 $33.3
Brilliant uncirculated $33 $76
MS 65 $260 $475

*by Hobbizine

Extra fine Buffalo nickel

Extra fine Buffalo nickel

This rating indicates that the coin is still in excellent condition, but it starts to show light wear signs. You will probably notice a loss of shine and light scratches on the surface.

These changes are particularly noticeable on the Indian hair and the back of the buffalo. However, this is still a desirable coin for most collectors.

Fine Buffalo nickel

A coin with this rating shows that the nickel has been in circulation for a long time. You can see a lot of scratches on the surface, and the recognizable shine has disappeared. In most cases, the relief details have visibly worn out, particularly on the referent points, like the Indian face and the buffalo front legs.

1930 Buffalo Nickel value*

Quality 1930 1930 S
Good $0.7 to $0.85 $0.7 to $0.85
Very good $0.9 to $1.3 $0.9 to $1.3
Fine $2.15 to $3.2 $12.65 to $4
Very fine $4.05 to $8 $4.05 to $11.3
Extra fine $11.5 to $17.8 $14.85 to $25.9
About uncirculated $21.6 to $35.6 $36.45 to $65
MS 60 $32.4 to $38.9 $68 to $81
MS 61 $40.5 to $48.6 $68 to $81
MS 62 $45.9 to $55 $85 to $102
MS 63 $72 to $88 $124 to $144
MS 64 $135 to $156 $208 to $239
MS 65 $202 to $232 $390 to 455
MS 66 $377 to $434 $845 to $972
MS 67 $2,380 to $3,250 $12,200 to $15,000

*by Greysheet

Good Buffalo nickel

Good Buffalo nickel

A good grade is the lowest coin rating that still includes it in the collectible item list. It shows that there are significant changes and damage on the coin surface due to the long circulation.

You can notice a lot of scratches over the Indian and buffalo images, while the minting year is barely visible. The complete relief is almost invisible, and the coin surface is virtually smooth.

 

Summary

Buffalo Nickels produced from 1913 to 1938 are attractive and affordable pieces to collectors worldwide. They represent typical American design you can get for less than a dollar.

Those coins minted in two mints in 1930 are standard, and you can’t find any key dates or rarities among them. However, highly graded coins are rare since most of the mintage was in circulation for a long. Therefore, a few existing MS 67 specimens are worth a few thousand dollars.

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