No Date Buffalo Nickels: How to Find Their Value

It's quite common to find Buffalo nickels that are dateless—missing the four digits that indicate the year the coin was made. Even without a date, rest assured these Buffalo nickels are authentic coins. They still are great collectibles for enthusiastic coin collectors.

We'll examine why this phenomenon happened and help you determine how much no date Buffalo nickels are worth.

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Buffalo nickel with a missing date. Source: iStock

Why Some Buffalo Nickels Have No Date

As amusing as it is to imagine, the United States Mint didn’t simply forget to put the date on certain Buffalo nickels. All dateless Buffalo nickels did, at one time, have a visible date on the coin. These no date coins were the result of circulation and excessive handling. The numbers wore away over time.

Although wear is the immediate cause of a coin missing the date, the problem began with a flaw in the mint’s design. More accurately, the failing was in U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber’s less-than-enthusiastic execution of sculptor James Earle Fraser’s design. Barber was known to be bitter that his own nickel design in use since 1892 was being replaced.

The location of the date on the coin also contributed to the issue. Because it was placed near one of the higher relief portions of the design, the numerals of the date were some of the first features to wear away through their lifetime of use.

Moreover, the relatively low value of nickels ensured that these coins circulated heavily. The widespread use of nickels in commerce meant that the features on these coins wore away more quickly than larger denominations like half dollars and silver dollars.

How To Tell What Year Your Buffalo Nickel Is

The year-date will always be located on the shoulder of the Indian Head, just above the miniature "F" inscription for designer James Earle Fraser.

buffalo nickel mound type

Note the proper location of the date (1913) in the bottom-left corner.

Partial dates are also common. This is where much if not all of the date is missing, but the final two digits can be made out, and thus the date of the issue is easily determined. Buffalo nickels were minted from 1913 to 1938, so the first two digits will always be "19."

Remember, dateless Buffalo nickels all actually have an underlying date. Revealing that date is the tricky part.

Acid Tests

Many coin dealers and collectors will apply a small amount of acid to the portion of the coin where the date once was. The type of acid used is usually ferra chloride, often sold under the brand Nic-a-Date. This process should create enough contrast with the date inscription so that the numbers can be determined.

The use of acid does damage the coin, of course. Over the years, the process may have to be done more than once. This leaves an increasingly ugly discoloration on the area of the year-date.

Find the Value of Your No Date Buffalo Nickel

So how much are no date Buffalo nickels worth? At minimum, these coins trade for 20 cents or more. It's not uncommon to see them sell for more than $1. Prices can go much higher if revealing the date yields a key date or variety.

Here's a quick list of key date Buffalo nickels and their values. You can find more complete pricing information on our Buffalo nickel values blog post.

Price Chart for Buffalo Nickel Key Dates and Varieties

1913-SVariety I, Mound$50
1913-DVariety II, Line$125
1913-SVariety II$350
19144 Over 3$225
1916Doubled Die$3,000
1918-D8 Over 7$1,250
1935Doubled Die Reverse$50
1936-D3-1/2 Legs$550

Keep in mind that any dateless Buffalo nickel will be heavily worn. That means prices will generally be at the low end for the coin type.

Popularity of Buffalo Nickels Without a Date

There are only a small number of coin collectors who specialize in no date Buffalo nickels, to be frank. Unlike true error coins, these dateless coins are not a special variety. They're merely well-circulated.

Nonetheless, dateless Buffalo nickels are still collectible and worth something, even if they're almost completely worn.

Both the United States Mint and private refineries have capitalized on the popularity of the famous buffalo and Indian Head designs for modern precious metals products. Follow the links below to check out these iconic designs in gold and silver!

Shop for American Gold Buffalo coins

Shop for Silver Buffalo rounds

Read more buying guides and tips about coin collecting from the authors at Gainesville Coins:

Buffalo Nickel Values & History (1913–1938)

What Nickels Are Silver? - Silver War Nickels

History of the Hobo Nickel

15 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels: Complete Price Guide

What Is a Silver Nickel Worth? (More Than You'd Think!)

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Theresa | 11/7/2023
I have a Indian head/buffalo nickel. I believe is 1913. All mint marks and letters are missing from the front, and most of the letters are missing from the buffalo side. How do I determine what it is worth??
1 Reply
Everett | 11/8/2023
Hi Theresa. With all of those details missing, the coin is fairly worn down. Even in that condition, your 1913 Buffalo nickel could still be worth $15 or much more depending on whether it's a Type 1 (uneven mound beneath the buffalo) or Type 2 (flat ground beneath the buffalo). It also depends on what mint the coin was struck at. The best way to find out its value would be to take it to your local coin dealer or submit it to a third-party grading service for authentication. NGC and PCGS are the two best grading companies.
0 Reply
Wanda | 8/16/2023
I have 1942 pennies wheat pennies are they worth anything
1 Reply
Everett | 8/17/2023
Hi Wanda. Each 1942 penny is worth at least 20 cents to $3.
0 Reply
Frank | 7/23/2023
I have an Indian/Buffalo nickel no date. Was given to my Mother by her Grandmother in 1933. Any ideas on value. Lettering on Buffalo side almost all visable, any ideas?
0 Reply
Everett | 7/24/2023
Hey Frank. That's very cool that your grandmother and mother passed the coin down over so many years! It is likely to be worth at least $1, but if an acid test reveals the nickel to be a key date, your coin could be worth significantly more.
0 Reply
Frank | 7/23/2023
I have an Indian/Buffalo nickel no date. Was given to my Mother by her Grandmother in 1933. Any ideas on value. Lettering on Buffalo side almost all visable, any ideas?
0 Reply
Everett Millman

Everett Millman

Managing Editor | Analyst, Commodities and Finance

Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.

In addition to blogging, Everett's work has been featured in Reuters, CNN Business, Bloomberg Radio, TD Ameritrade Network, CoinWeek, and has been referenced by the Washington Post.