1913 S Type 1 Buffalo Nickel: A Fascinating Coin from a Beloved Series

The Distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 Buffalo Nickels

The 1913 S Type 1 Buffalo Nickel holds a special place in the hearts of collectors, and it’s easy to see why. This particular coin, graded by PCGS as MS65, belongs to one of my favorite series. What makes it even more intriguing is its classification as a Type 1 buffalo nickel.

A Type 1 buffalo nickel features a buffalo standing on a mound of earth on the reverse side. However, as these coins circulated, an interesting issue arose. The mint mark, usually found under the mound, and the date on the obverse side of the coin would wear away over time. In response, the mint decided to make a change.

The buffalo was removed from the mound and placed on a line instead, resulting in what is now known as the Type 2 buffalo nickel. To ensure the longevity of the date and mint mark, an exergue was added over the date. This alteration allowed collectors to easily identify the origin and date of their nickel, without worrying about wear and tear.

Understanding Strike versus Wear: A Collector’s Dilemma

When it comes to collecting buffalo nickels, particularly those from the 1920s, collectors often encounter a common conundrum: differentiating between strike and wear. The 1924 S’s and 1926 S’s, in particular, tend to have a “mushy” strike, which can be mistaken for wear.

So, how can you determine whether a coin exhibits strike or wear? While it typically requires years of experience to accurately assess, there is an easier way to determine the difference: the coin’s luster.

When you hold a coin under the light and rotate it, you’ll notice rays reflecting back into your eyes. This reflection is known as the coin’s luster. If the luster is unbroken, with no patches where the light fails to reflect, the coin is considered uncirculated. However, if the luster appears broken, with some areas reflecting light and others not, the coin is likely circulated.

Identifying strike versus wear becomes particularly challenging with coins from 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927. These years often exhibit a weak strike, making it difficult to determine whether the coin is worn or simply uncirculated with a less-than-ideal strike.

When you come across a coin from one of these years with an exceptional strike, it’s highly recommended to purchase it, regardless of the price. Coins with great strikes from these dates are rare finds, and opportunities to acquire them should not be missed.

The Rarity of Well-Struck Coins and the Influence of Mint Pressure

Dealers are well aware of the value and desirability of buffalo nickels with exceptional strikes. As a result, they often command a premium price for these coins. While the higher cost may deter some collectors, it’s important to remember that coins with exceptional strikes are representative of how they should look.

This distinction holds true not only for the Denver and San Francisco minted coins but the Philadelphia minted coins (also known as “esmens”) as well. Interestingly, the esmens tend to have a slightly lower quality strike compared to their counterparts.

Why these discrepancies exist in mint pressure remains a mystery. The exact reason behind the varying pressure used during the striking process is still unknown. Nevertheless, this issue is a common occurrence among buffalo nickels, leading to the distinct characteristics observed in well-struck and poorly-struck examples.

As a collector, it’s essential to appreciate the unique qualities and challenges presented by each coin. The 1913 S Type 1 Buffalo Nickel, with its standing buffalo on a mound of earth, offers a glimpse into the history and evolution of this beloved series. Whether you’re an avid buffalo nickel collector or a numismatic enthusiast, this coin is a must-have for any collection.

Video source: APMEX

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