It is definitely easy to overlook the 1918-D Buffalo nickel simply because a small number of its mintage were the famous 1918/17-D overdate. Of course, back in 1918, no one noticed and decades later when the 1918/17-D was discovered, it was really too late to find them in top grades. In MS-65, if you can locate a dealer with one, the 1918/17-D would be close to $300,000.
The regular 1918-D is a good deal less expensive, but it would be a mistake to assume that it is some common date barely worth including in a collection. The 1918-D, like a lot of other Buffalo nickels and especially those from branch mints is a good deal tougher than many realize and that is in all grades from G-4 all the way up to MS-65.
The story in the case of the 1918-D is, just as no one noticed the 1918/17-D, few gave the 1918-D a second thought. It had a mintage of 8,362,314 and for a Buffalo nickel from a branch mint at the time, that was a solid total but certainly not high. It was not enough, however, to get many to set aside a few extra examples.
We know from the simple fact that when the 1918/17-D overdate was discovered and people started a frantic search for Mint State 1918-D nickels to see if they happened to be the error they found that there were no significant supplies of the 1918-D to search.
That means the bulk of the 1918-D Buffalo nickels were placed into circulation. That is not good news for survival.
With the 1918-D at a price of $22.50 in G-4 today, you have to conclude that the supply of the 1918-D even in a grade like G-4 is not what might be expected.
The real focus for the 1918-D, however, is in Mint State. We have plenty of evidence to suggest that only small numbers were saved. The dealers of the day were not in the habit of saving bags or rolls of new issues as there was very little interest in them. The customers of the day could find new issues at the bank so it meant the only coins they would spend money to buy would be older issues they could not find in circulation. Under those circumstances, it is bad business to stock modern issues with no market so the 1918-D and assorted other even better dates of various denominations were never heavily stocked.
The result is the 1918-D is not available as might be expected. In MS-60, it currently lists for $420 while an MS-65 is priced at $3,750. In reality, for a branch mint Buffalo nickel of the period, those prices are very modest.
At the Professional Coin Grading Service, they report a total of 95 examples in MS-65 or better with the best being a single coin called MS-67. At Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, the total for the 1918-D in MS-65 or better is 37 coins and there the best was a number of them that were graded MS-66.
Those numbers, while not high, are still above some other branch mint dates of the time. However, the 1918-D shows a very typical trait of dates of the period in that, above MS-65, there are almost no coins That is seen repeatedly in branch mint Buffalo nickels. It makes the 1918-D somewhat more available than some but it is a typical and tough Buffalo nickel.
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