1913 5C Type One MS68 PCGS Rev. from Heritage

Grading Buffalo Nickels

There are many coin grading standards you may occur, as this is a well researched topic. Please use this as a reference point in your own research to gain personal expertise in numismatics. Make informed decisions when purchasing. Use this reference material to guide you.

MS65 (Mint State)

  • Summary: A high quality of mint luster completely covers the surfaces of the coin and is undisturbed. Contact marks and bag marks are few and small. The coin is well struck, and a few hairlines may be seen under a magnifying glass. Overall the coin is brilliant and has an above-average eye appeal.
  • Obverse: Mint luster is complete and unimpaired. The strike is full and complete, and even minor details exist on the highest points.
  • Reverse: A full strike is evidenced by the detail in the buffalo’s hair. There are no major distracting marks on the surface of the coin.

MS63 (Mint State)

  • Summary: No traces of wear from circulation exist. Mint luster is complete but shows minor impairments. Many contact marks, bag marks, and hairline scratches exist on the coin’s field, and major design elements and are visible without magnification. Overall, the coin has an attractive eye appeal.
  • Obverse: There are no obvious signs of wear on the Indian’s cheek. Mint luster must be full and complete but may be impaired.
  • Reverse: The buffalo’s shoulder and rear flank show no signs of wear but may be lacking in detail due to a less than full strike. Mint luster is complete and unbroken.

AU55 (Almost Uncirculated)

  • Summary: Very minor traces of wear or abrasions are visible on only the highest points on the coin. Mint luster is almost complete, and the surfaces of the coin are well preserved.
  • Obverse: Only slight traces of wear are evident on the Indian’s cheek and top of the braid. At least half of the original mint luster remains.
  • Reverse: Minor traces of wear are visible on the buffalo’s shoulder and rear flank. All other design elements are bold.

EF45 (Extremely Fine)

  • Summary: Has only the slightest wear on the very highest points of the coin. All details are sharp and all design elements are well defined. Some traces of mint luster may still exist.
  • Obverse: The Indian’s hair, braid, and feathers are lightly worn but the overall design details are bold. Minimal wear is visible on the ribbon lines in the hair braid.
  • Reverse: The buffalo’s horn is virtually complete and the details in the buffalo’s hair are bold. Only minor flatness exists on the buffalo’s shoulder and rear flank.

VF35 (Very Fine)

  • Summary: Has only the slightest wear on the very highest points of the coin. All details are sharp and all design elements are well defined. Some traces of mint luster may still exist.
  • Obverse: The Indian’s hair, braid, and feathers are lightly worn but the overall design details are bold. Minimal wear is visible on the ribbon lines in the hair braid.
  • Reverse: The buffalo’s horn is virtually complete and the details in the buffalo’s hair are bold. Only minor flatness exists on the buffalo’s shoulder and rear flank.

VF25 (Very Fine)

  • Summary: Moderate to minor wear exists only on the highest parts of the design where a slight flatness is beginning to show. Although worn, the overall condition of the coin is pleasing and attractive.
  • Obverse: The Indian’s hair and cheek are noticeably flat but not lacking in detail. Partial details in both feathers are showing.​
  • Reverse: The hair on the buffalo’s head is worn and the horn may be incomplete. The hair on the top of the Buffalo’s shoulder has some detail.

F12 (Fine)

  • Summary: The coin shows moderate, even wear over the entire surface of the coin. The major design elements are bold and all lettering, legends, and date are clear and readable.
  • Obverse: Entire design is clear but flat in spots. Three-quarters of the details in the Indian’s hair and braid are visible. The hairline near the cheek and forehead is discernible.
  • Reverse: Major details in the buffalo’s shoulder and rear flank are becoming visible. The horn is starting to show and the tuft of hair on the top of the head is more distinct. All lettering is bold and clear.

VG8 (Very Good)

  • Summary: The coin is well worn. The design is clear and major elements are defined but are flat and lacking in detail. The major design elements will be clear and well defined. Finer details in the design and the higher points of the coin will be missing or worn flat.
  • Obverse: The details in the Indian’s hair are beginning to show. The hair near the cheek and forehead is flat and lacking any detail.
  • Reverse: The buffalo’s head is mostly flat but the lower part of the horn is starting to show. The legends are clear and distinct. Some detail on the very top of the buffalo is visible.

G4 (Good)

  • Summary: The coin is heavily worn overall. The devices, lettering, legends, and date are readable but may have some faintness in a few areas. All major features are visible in at least outline form and the rim is mostly complete but may be partially worn off in a few spots.
  • Obverse: The fundamental details of the Indian’s head (feathers and hair) are starting to appear. The date is clearly readable without any strenuous effort. On poorly struck examples, the letters of “LIBERTY” may be merged with the rim.
  • Reverse: The buffalo is well worn but the major details (head, shoulder, and rear flank) are visible. The top of the buffalo’s head is flat and devoid of all details. The legends are clear but may be touching the rim in a few spots.

These are other great references to consider.

  • The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards of United States Coins by Kenneth Bressett
  • Photograde: A Photographic Grading Encyclopedia for United States Coinsby James F. Ruddy
  • Making the Grade: A Grading Guide to the Top 50 Most Widely Collected U.S. Coins by Beth Deisher
  • Grading Coins by Photographs by Q. David Bowers
  • The Official Guide to Coin Grading and Counterfeit Detection by John Dannreuther

Images courtesy of HA.com

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