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Buffalo Model for Nickel and Notes

Buffalo Model for Nickels and Notes 

Being new at collecting coins, I have to rely on documentation to enlighten me about the coins I collect. The first book about numismatics I bought was the “Red Book,” 72nd edition of 2019.I thought it was a fairly good book with lots of information. Watching various television programming that sell coins also helped to learn about the different coins and paper money in this hobby. The second book I bought was 100 Greatest American Currency Notes. I bought it because it was constantly referenced on the TV shows.

Now I have a question that perhaps you can answer. In the “Red Book” under the Indian Head or Buffalo (1913-1938) in the nickel section it states, “The bison was supposedly modeled after ‘Black Diamond’ in the New York Central Park Zoo.” I have heard this same statement on multiple TV shows when this coin is being sold.

However, in the 100 Greatest American Currency Notes under No. 6, $10 Legal Tender “Bison Note,” series of 1901, it states, “Over a period of time it has been stated that the bison is Black Diamond, who was used on the 1913 to 1938 Buffalo nickel. The trouble with this theory is that Black Diamond is an impostor, and another animal, actually stuffed and in a museum, modeled that particular coin.”

Can you clear this discrepancy up?Is there any documentation you can point to? Or is this just one of those things that will be bantered back and forth in perpetuity?

Edward Alba
Ridgecrest, Calif.

Editor’s Note: According to “Coin Clinic” expert Richard Giedroyc:

The best explanation I have seen is by Dennis Hengeveld in the Feb. 12, 2012, posting to, where he says, “It appears that Fraser’s comments later in his life about which animal he based his design on are inaccurate. The most likely candidate is an American Bison named Black Diamond, which resided in New York at the time the design was created.” This, however, is disputed by some, including Q. David Bowers in his Guide Book of Buffalo and Jefferson Nickels. Bowers says that the animal’s head has “its horns set much higher” and seems an unlikely source. Another animal is called Pablo, which was supposed to have been the animal featured on the 1901 $10 note, even though some sources say that this is Black Diamond as well.

Authenticating, Slabbing Downfall of Modern Hobby

At 87 years young with all my facilities strong, I’m a longtime advertiser, and in 2023 will become a 50-year Life Member of the ANA (3096). I really feel sorry for the newcomers to this extraordinary hobby. The Mint, the grading services and the TV hucksters are raking in outrageous profits on overpriced modern coins. Now there’s a basketball coin coming out (whoopie, and other exclamations of phony excitement). I can just picture it ... slabbed basketball coins offered with Full Ball Lines! Do you know something? The actual Liberty Bell in Philadelphia does not have full bell lines. But I digress.

When does all this belief that it’s the word of God because it’s “slabbed” end? Modern technology, 3-D printers, Chinese ingenuity and TV hucksters. What next, a Curling coin? Or maybe a golf coin that is slabbed as Deep cameo full dimples, which the new and gullible will eat up at inflated, imaginary prices, only to have their heirs realize that their older generation was duped!

I do not believe that slabs are airtight forever! I’ve seen carbon spots on coins in slabs, that obviously wasn’t there when the coin was graded. What does one do if their MS-66+ CAC, star, etc. 1955 Double Die cent develops a carbon spot down the road? P.T. Barnum was right! Finally, how many adjectives, plus signs, stars, first strikes, autographs, CAC stickers and other excuses to jack up the price will the market think of?

Irv Atkins
Henderson, Nev.

Slowed Tourism Means Fewer Coins in Hawaii

The pandemic has impacted the tourism industry in Hawaii and may have resulted in the reduction of new money shipments to the islands. Low demand from businesses for coins and currency has caused many of the major banks in Honolulu to basically recycle existing coin supply and reduce their shipping cost of bringing in coins from the Federal Reserve Bank on the mainland.

The 2019 West Point coin hunt was very successful, with over 500 “W” quarters discovered from brand new rolls. However, 2020 has been very disappointing. I have checked with many of the banks in Honolulu and have not seen any new 2020 quarters, even in circulation as change. The 2020 Salt River Bay quarters have been released for a couple of months now. It can only mean there will be a larger inventory of new 2020 quarters on the mainland. Happy hunting!

Chris T.
Honolulu, Hawaii

Next Time, Skip Pencil Eraser to Look for Detail

Mr. Fisher, what a great article about your find of the 1909-S VDB. You made a huge mistake by using a pencil eraser to check for the VDB. The erasure marks reduce the value to less than what you paid for the coin if the erasure discolored the coin. Please go to any coin shop or online and buy some type of magnifying glass to check your next super deal.

J.D. Hollingsworth
Carmel, Ind.

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