The 1935 Buffalo nickel double die reverse is one of the most coveted coins for variety collectors due to the existence of a rare double die reverse variety. This variety shows a strong doubling of the text and details on the reverse side of the coin.
If you’re lucky enough to have a 1935 Buffalo nickel, here’s a quick tip to check if yours is the valuable double die variety: Examine the letters and words on the reverse carefully under magnification for any signs of doubling or extra thickness in the details.
If you see strong and obvious doubling, you likely have the 1935 double die.
In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about identifying and authenticating a real 1935 Buffalo nickel double-die reverse variety.
Key Features of the 1935 Buffalo Nickel Double Die Reverse
Prominent Thickening and Doubling of Lettering
The most notable feature of the 1935 Buffalo nickel double die is the evident doubling of the lettering, words, and digits on the reverse side. This doubling manifests as a noticeable thickening and blurriness of elements like the words “Five Cents”, the digits of the denomination, and the two words “United States of America” that encircle the top perimeter.
This doubling occurs because the design on a second die was impressed slightly out of alignment with the existing design. So letters like the R, T, and E show a clear gap between the two impressions. This prominent doubling is visible to the naked eye and is the defining feature of these rare double-die nickels.
Doubling Visible to Naked Eye
Unlike more subtle forms of doubling that require magnification, the lettering doubling on 1935 double-die Buffalo nickel is evident without any visual aids. You can discern the doubling, spacing gaps, and design imprecision simply by examining the coin’s reverse under good lighting.
According to PCGS Coin Facts, the doubling on these double-die nickel rates at 8 out of 10 on the Ash scale measures doubled die severity. This means the doubling displacement is 0.035 inches and is highly visible to amateur collectors or first-time viewers.
Strongest Doubling on Motto and Date
While the entire reverse design shows doubling distortion, including the buffalo’s head, the most severely affected areas are the US motto “E Pluribus Unum” above the buffalo and the coin’s mint date below.
Here the lettering impressions are dramatically doubled and thickness, with noticeable gaps between letter layers.
On mint state versions with little wear, the date digits 193 of 1935 stand out sharply with a doubled ghost image to the right of each numeral. So significant portions of the motto and date will appear boldly thickened and blurred on authenticated double dies.
Using a Jeweler’s Loupe to Inspect for Doubling
A jeweler’s loupe, also known as a jeweler’s loop, is an essential tool for identifying doubling on Buffalo nickels. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to properly use a loupe to inspect a 1935 Buffalo nickel for the sought-after double die reverse variety:
Get a Quality Loupe
Not all loupes are created equal. A good 10x loupe with crisp magnification is vital for seeing the subtle doubling on the reverse design. Illuminated loupes allow you to direct light right on the area of interest. Expect to spend $10-30 for a versatile loupe.
Know What to Look For
On 1935 Buffalo nickel double die reverses, look for clear splitting of design details like the buffalo’s shoulder, legs, tail, and most noticeably, the word “FIVE CENTS.” Compare areas of interest to other parts of the coin where the doubling should not appear.
Examine the Coin at Multiple Angles
Turn the Buffalo nickel around under the loupe to identify doubling from all vantage points. Subtle splits can disappear at certain angles. Tilt the coin towards and away from you to allow light to hit the surface from different directions.
Have a Reference Image
Comparison against a known example of the 1935 double die reverse online or in print form makes it much easier to spot the doubling. Details like the buffalo’s front leg and shoulder and the lettering may jump out when compared to a reference image.
With some patience, a good jeweler’s loupe, the right technique, and an eye for detail identifying a rare 1935 doubled-die reverse Buffalo nickel variety becomes much more achievable for collectors.
Comparing Images and Descriptions of Authentic Examples
When trying to determine if your 1935 Buffalo nickel is a rare and valuable double-die reverse variety, one of the best methods is to carefully compare it side-by-side with images and descriptions of authenticated specimens.
Several informative websites showcase detailed photos, illustrations, and analysis of genuine double-die reverse nickels that can assist with identification.
Prominent Extra Thickness on Key Design Elements
Under magnification, a prominent doubling of design elements on the reverse side is the telltale sign of this doubled die. In particular, focus on the thickness and splitting of details within the font on the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, the right leg and shank of the buffalo, the buffalo’s shoulder, two front hooves, and several of the grass tufts under its body.
Subtle extra lines, thickness, and distortion of these features indicate an authentic doubled die reverse.
Compare Your Nickel to Images at NGC and PCGS
The Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) both showcase high-resolution images of certified 1935 Buffalo double die reverse nickels on their informative websites.
Take advantage of their authentication images and descriptions to compare specific areas of your coin under consideration. Carefully match the extra thickness, splitting, and distortion of design elements to those found on verified specimens.
Utilize the Additional Images and Analysis at Variety Vista
The Variety Vista site contains an extensive doubled die reverse attribute checklist with clear photographs side-by-side with normal Buffalo nickels for convenient analysis. Their list calls out exactly which design aspects to scrutinize on your coin like the R in AMERICA, the right leg, and the shank of the buffalo, shoulder, and hooves among others.
With all three informative sites, repeated close inspection while referencing attributes of verified doubled dies is key.
|Advantages for Comparison
|High resolution photos and detailed description
|Additional authentication images from multiple coins
|Side-by-side comparison images and extensive attribute checklist
Taking the time to cross-reference your Buffalo nickel with multiple informational sites showcasing genuine doubled die reverse specimens and attributes greatly assists in accurate identification.
Minor differences in the thickness and splitting of design features can mean the difference between an ordinary coin and a rare variety worth over $1,000!
Consulting Third-Party Grading Services for Authentication
Authenticating a rare coin like a 1935 Buffalo nickel double-die reverse requires expert analysis. Consulting respected third-party grading services can provide authoritative assessments of a coin’s authenticity and grade.
Top Grading Services
Three of the top third-party grading services collectors trust for authentication and grading are:
- PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service)
- NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation)
- ANACS (American Numismatic Association Certification Service)
These services employ professional graders who examine coins and determine their authenticity. They also assign a numeric grade from 1 to 70 that indicates a coin’s condition. The higher the grade, the better a coin’s condition.
Why Use Third-Party Grading
There are good reasons for collectors to consult these services:
- Removes bias – Graders have no financial stake in assessing a coin’s value
- Expertise – Graders are highly trained with years of experience
- Credibility – Respected companies stake their reputation on accuracy
- Enhanced value – Authenticated coins command higher prices when selling
The Submission Process
To have a coin professionally graded and authenticated:
- Select a grading service and review their submission instructions
- Package coin securely to prevent damage
- Complete the submission form and pay the required fee
- Await assessment by graders (may take weeks)
- Receive a coin enclosed in a tamper-proof case displaying the grade
Securing a third-party grade costs money but adds value by confirming authenticity. This is essential for rare coins like the 1935 Buffalo nickel double-die reverse.
Estimated Value Based on Condition and Authentication
The 1935 Buffalo nickel double die reverse is a highly sought-after variety in the coin-collecting community. Its value can vary greatly depending on the coin’s grade and certification from a reputable third-party grading service like PCGS or NGC.
Mint State Grades
In pristine mint condition, the 1935 double-die nickel is worth a small fortune. Here are some approximate values:
- MS-67 (Perfect Uncirculated) – $75,000 to $100,000+
- MS-66 (Premium Uncirculated) – $50,000 to $75,000
- MS-65 (Choice Uncirculated) – $30,000 to $50,000
- MS-64 (Uncirculated) – $15,000 to $30,000
Only a tiny fraction of these coins have survived in Mint State condition. That scarcity significantly drives up the value. Authenticated MS-65 examples are extraordinarily rare and trade hands infrequently.
In lightly circulated condition, the 1935 double-die nickel still carries a healthy premium. Values include:
- EF-45 (Choice Extremely Fine) – $2,000 to $4,500
- VF-30 (Very Fine) – $1,250 to $2,500
- F-12 (Fine) – $750 to $1,500
Even well-worn examples that grade G-4 or below carry a notable premium over common date Buffalo nickels, valued at around $100 to $500.
Due to counterfeits and altered coins in the marketplace, authentication from PCGS or NGC adds an extra layer of protection for buyers.
The grading services back their assessments, certifying that the coins are genuine 1935 double-die nickels. This brings more confidence to high-value purchases.
Raw, uncertified examples still carry market premiums and can be submitted to PCGS or NGC for authentication at any time.
1935 Buffalo Nickel Double Die Reverse – Conclusion
With some careful inspection, reference materials, and expert consultation, an average collector can identify a 1935 Buffalo nickel double-die reverse variety. Given the substantial value at stake, having a potential double die authenticated by professional graders is highly recommended before selling one of these rare and valuable mint errors.
We hope this guide gives you a great starting point to check your 1935 nickels and uncover any double-die treasures hiding in plain sight!