The U.S. Mint believes that the Native American figure depicted on the Buffalo Indian Head nickel is a composite image of Chief Iron Tail of the Lakota Sioux, Chief Two Moons of the Cheyenne and another unnamed American Indian. The coins were designed by James Earle Fraser.
Since the U.S. Mint dates all coins it produces, collectors consider a Buffalo Indian Head nickel with the date rubbed off as a low-grade coin likely worth about 50 cents. The intrinsic value of the metal in the coins is around 5 cents, as of 2014.
The value of a U.S. 1937 Indian buffalo nickel ranges between $1.75 to $45. There is a very rare error in this coin in which the buffalo has only three legs. This error is worth upwards of $5,000.
The buffalo nickel is not particularly rare, even though it was only minted between 1913 and 1938. According to the U.S. Mint, more than 1.2 billion such nickels were made during this time period. Some buffalo nickels, however, are more rare than others and have more value to coin collectors.
It isn't unusual to see a buffalo nickel with the date worn away, because the date was printed on a raised part of the coin's design. Since determining the age and rarity of the coin is impossible without the date, such coins are usually of little value to coin collectors.
Also known as a buffalo nickel because of the animal on the flip side, an Indian head nickel is very rare according to the website Rare Buffalo Nickel. However, most of these coins are not terribly valuable, despite the fact that there are not many in circulation.
A three-legged buffalo nickel in circulation is worth anywhere from $400 to $1,000, while one that is not in circulation can pull in $20,000 or more. The condition of the coin is important to collectors, so the ones that are in better condition will command a higher price.
There is no way to tell the rarity or value of dateless buffalo nickels, so they are typically sold for 10 to 20 cents as of 2015. Although dateless coins are normally only worth face value, dateless buffalo nickels are worth more because crafting enthusiasts use them to make jewelry.
The value of an Indian Head nickel, also known as a Buffalo nickel, does change over time and, as of 2015, has fallen off somewhat since its peak in 2008. Numerous publications track the value of Indian Head nickels and other collectible coins.
The silver content in a Buffalo 5-cent piece is zero percent, as it does not contain any silver. The metal content of the coin consists of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel.