Where is the mint mark on a 1937 Buffalo nickel? The Buffalo nickel, featuring a portrait of a Native American on one side, is one of the most iconic coins in U.S. history. If you have a 1937 Buffalo nickel and want to identify where it was minted, knowing the mint mark location is key.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The mint mark on a 1937 Buffalo nickel is located above the word ‘FIVE CENTS’ on the reverse (or ‘tails’) side of the coin.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to locate the mint mark on your 1937 Buffalo nickel, determine which mint it came from based on the mint mark letter, and assess its value.
Identifying Key Elements of a 1937 Buffalo Nickel
The 1937 Buffalo nickel features the same design as previous years in the Buffalo nickel series, with an American bison on one side and a Native American portrait on the other. However, there are a few key elements to look for when identifying a 1937 specimen:
Date and Mint Mark
The date on the obverse (front) of the coin should read “1937.” Underneath the denomination on the reverse side, a small mint mark letter may be present indicating which US mint produced the coin:
- “D” – Denver Mint
- “S” – San Francisco Mint
- No mint mark – Philadelphia Mint
Condition and Details
Well-struck 1937 Buffalo nickels will show clear, sharp details on the bison and Native American portrait designs. Light wear first appears on the highest points of these designs. Severely worn coins will have flat, indistinct details.
The fields surrounding the central designs should be relatively smooth without significant marks or damage.
An uncirculated specimen with no signs of wear can be worth up to $3 in typical conditions. Higher value premiums apply for rare proof versions or coins graded MS65 or better.
Counterfeits and Alterations
Counterfeiters sometimes alter the dates on Buffalo nickels to try to pass them off as more valuable years. However, the quality of engraving can be NOTICEABLY INFERIOR with blurred digits or improperly shaped numerals on altered dates.
Weight, thickness, and magnetic properties can also help determine if a coin is genuine compared to counterfeits.
Authentication from a reputable coin dealer or grading service like PCGS or NGC provides the most RELIABLE DEGREE OF ASSURANCE. Their experts carefully examine coins and certify authenticity as well as grade level.
By checking the date/mint combination, condition, and authenticity, collectors can verify if they have a legitimate 1937 specimen. This iconic American 20th-century coin remains popular with enthusiasts over 80 years after release.
Locating the Mint Mark on a 1937 Buffalo Nickel
The 1937 Buffalo nickel is a highly sought-after coin among collectors due to its rarity and iconic design. Finding where the mint mark is located on this coin is important for determining its value and authenticity.
What is a Mint Mark?
A mint mark indicates at which of the United States minting facilities the coin was produced. In 1937, Buffalo nickels were struck at three mints: Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (D mint mark), and San Francisco (S mint mark).
Mint Mark Location
On a 1937 Buffalo nickel, the mint mark is located on the reverse (tails) side of the coin, directly below the words “Five Cents” near the bottom rim. You will need to closely examine this area with a magnifying glass to check for a small D, S, or no letter indicating the Philadelphia mint.
Why the Mint Mark Matters
The mint that struck the 1937 Buffalo nickel has a significant impact on the coin’s value to collectors and dealers today. Some key points:
- The 1937 Philadelphia issue (no mintmark) had the highest mintage of over 79 million coins, making it the least rare.
- The 1937-D Denver issue had a lower mintage of over 17 million, making it slightly more valuable.
- The 1937-S San Francisco issue is the real prize find, with only 5.6 million coins struck and the highest collector demand, valued upwards of $1,000+ in mint condition.
Authenticating Your Coin
Verifying that a 1937 Buffalo nickel is real is also vital. Some key markers to inspect are:
- The depth and style of the coin’s design features, lettering, and Native American portrait compared to authentic examples
- Correct weight of 5 grams and silver color indicating .900 pure nickel composition
- No evidence of artificial toning, cleaning, damage, or wear
With attention to details like properly locating the mint mark and using these authentication tips, you can be confident that your 1937 Buffalo nickel is the genuine treasure that collectors admire. Consult a reputable professional coin dealer like those PCGS partners with if you need further assessment.
Mint Marks and Mints for 1937 Buffalo Nickels
The 1937 Buffalo nickel is a very popular coin for collectors. This was the last year that the iconic Indian Head or Buffalo nickel design by James Earle Fraser was minted before it was replaced in 1938 by the Jefferson nickel design.
But an interesting aspect of Buffalo nickels minted in 1937 is that some coins have a mint mark indicating which U.S. Mint facility struck the coins, while others do not.
The Three Mint Facilities in 1937
In 1937, there were three active U.S. Mint facilities producing coins – the main Philadelphia Mint (which used no mint mark), the Denver Mint (D mint mark), and the San Francisco Mint (S mint mark). This means there are potentially three variations of the 1937 Buffalo nickel:
- No mint mark – Philadelphia Mint issue
- D mint mark – Denver Mint issue
- S mint mark – San Francisco Mint issue
Most 1937 Buffalos Had No Mint Mark
The vast majority of Buffalo nickels produced in 1937 were struck at the Philadelphia Mint. As a result, most 1937 Buffalo nickels in circulation or collector’s hands today do not have a mint mark. One interesting statistic is that the 1937 Philadelphia issue had the highest mintage of any Buffalo nickel, with over 79 million coins struck.
So when examining a 1937 Buffalo nickel, look first at the bottom rear of the reverse (tails) side under the words Five Cents for the presence or absence of a mint mark. No mint mark means it’s a common Philadelphia issue.
Scarce D and S Mint Marked Varieties
While Philadelphia cranked out tens of millions of ’37 Buffalos, the Denver and San Francisco Mints had much lower mintages. Only around 17 million of the 1937-D variety were made. And the rarest 1937 variant is the 1937-S, boasting a mintage under 6.5 million.
So any 1937 Buffalo nickels displaying the D or S mint mark are worth holding onto, as they have more numismatic value to collectors than the abundant no-mint mark Philadelphia issues.
In top condition, an MS-65 graded 1937-D might sell for around $175, while a similarly graded ’37-S could fetch $650 at auction. So it pays to check those 1937 Buffalo nickels closely for those small but important mint marks!
Using the Mint Mark to Determine the Value of 1937 Buffalo Nickels
The 1937 Buffalo nickel is a popular coin for collectors, in part because there are some key details involving the mint mark that can significantly impact the value. Here’s an overview of using the mint mark to determine the worth of a 1937 Buffalo nickel:
Philadelphia Mint Had No Mint Mark
The Philadelphia Mint produced Buffalo nickels in 1937 without any mint mark. This was standard practice for coins from Philly. Since they lacked a mint mark, 1937 Buffalo nickels from Philadelphia have a lower premium than those from Denver or San Francisco.
The Denver Mint Used a “D” Mint Mark
The Denver mint placed a tiny “D” mint mark on the reverse of its 1937 Buffalo nickels, usually below the denomination. Having this “D” mint mark makes the coin more valuable to collectors. In average condition, they sell for $8-10, over double the common Philadelphia version.
“S” Mint Mark Buffalo Nickels are Scarce
The San Francisco mint added an “S” mint mark to Buffalo nickels that year. Around 6.5 million 1937-S Buffalo nickels were made, making them relatively scarce. As you might expect, the “S” mint mark spikes the value dramatically.
An average circulated 1937-S may command $60-75 in the current market due to demand from series collectors.
Stronger Grades Fetch Even Higher Premiums
As with all collectible coins, the grade plays a key role in determining value. Well-struck 1937 Buffalo nickels that avoided heavy wear can reach MS63 or MS64 grades. These choice uncirculated coins trade for over $100 and up to $475 for the San Francisco issue.
So examining the condition provides more nuance within each mint.
Where Is The Mint Mark On A 1937 Buffalo Nickel – Conclusion
With this guide on where to find the mint mark on a 1937 Buffalo nickel, you now have the knowledge to identify which mint your coin came from and assess its collectability. Checking for mint marks is an important first step in valuing any vintage coin.
We hope this gives you a deeper appreciation of these iconic pieces of Americana!