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Date wear defines 1925-D Buffalo nickels

The 1925-D Buffalo nickel is not a key date among Buffalo nickels, but it is a good date with an interesting story.

The 1925-D Buffalo nickel is not a key date among Buffalo nickels, but it is a good date with an interesting story.

The Buffalo nickel was well established by 1925, but was still circulating with Liberty Head nickels, which would continue until the 1940s. While the Buffalo design was popular, it would be stretching the point to suggest that a well-liked design translated into large numbers of collectors.

Collecting interest was still evolving at the time when it came to anything other than cents. There were some nickel collectors, but in all probability, the cent collectors would have been collecting by date, not by date and mint.

The popularity of date and mint collecting was increasing, but the 1930s would be the key time in changing collecting habits, thanks to the first coin albums to house entire collections by date and mint.

The 1925-D Buffalo nickel had the same problems as other Buffalo nickels ? the date was the highest part of the obverse design and would wear off quickly. That meant that, except for the use of a date-restoring compound that damaged the coin, many examples of the 4,450,000 1925-Ds minted were forever lost. That explains the current $8 price in G-4, and that price would probably go higher if we had any real idea as to the actual supplies in lower circulated grades.

The situation in Mint State is more difficult. There was relatively little saving at the time, although in the case of the 1925-D, we actually do know of at least some rolls that were purchased by the curator of the Joseph C. Mitchelson collection in the Connecticut State Library in Hartford.

The curator, who probably should have been given some type of award, had taken some liberties with his purchasing power that allowed him to acquire an example of every year?s coins in proof or uncirculated. He started to acquire not one, but sometimes more examples than technically allowed. As the coins were being acquired basically for face value, there was no risk, but the library gained plenty, as there were two 1927-D Saint- Gaudens double eagles, and as a $1 million-plus coin today, that certainly was a wise purchase. There were also rolls of Buffalo nickels, including the 1925-D.

As much of that collection was sold in the 1990s, it has certainly helped the supply of Mint State examples of the 1925-D and other dates, as well. Even so, the 1925-D is currently $380 in MS-60 and $6,600 in MS-65.

While the Mint State prices do not suggest that the 1925-D is a key Mint State Buffalo nickel, they do indicate that it is not readily available. That is especially true in top grades like MS-65, as the branch mint Buffalo nickels as a group are poorly made, so even if someone had saved examples, you are not going to find many that will quality as MS-65 or better.

At Numismatic Guaranty Corpora-tion, they have graded 504 examples of the 1925-D, and of that total, 55 managed a grade of at least MS-65, with five being MS-66, but none better.

At Professional Coin Grading Service, they have seen a total of 621 examples of the 1925-D, and there the total in MS-65 or better is 53, with a single MS-66 being the best.

Based on those totals, we can conclude that while available in some Mint State numbers, the 1925-D is a tough date in MS-65.