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Acid date collectible?

Remember dateless Buffalo nickels?


If you are of a certain age, you can recall encountering many of them in change.

Though they did nothing to help fill a Whitman album in the circulation finds era, they often sparked daydreams as collectors wondered what dates might have been on them.

If this describes your early days as a coin collector, a “Numismatic News” reader who does not want to be identified has suggested that the many dateless Buffalo coins that are still around can take coin collectors down memory lane.

As he wrote in an e-mail, “I have found a way to enjoy coin collecting today with much of the fun as I had in looking for coins for my albums when I was a youngster back in the 1950s.”

As you might have guessed, he then extolled the virtues of using date restoring acid on them.
“I have been acquiring quantities of dateless Buffalo nickels over time and have been successful in almost completing a set of 1913-1938 Buffalo nickels. What has caught my attention is that these unwanted 100-year-old coins are worthless among most coin dealers and many collectors,” he wrote.

While acid treatment has been around almost as long as the dateless coins themselves, the reader points out something that is less well known.

“Many do not understand that PCGS, NGC and ANACS will encapsulate these coins and attribute varieties.”

While searching bank rolls for Buffaloes is definitely a thing of the past, this reader suggested what he considers to be the next best thing.

“Today, dateless examples can be purchased for 25 cents on average. With a desire to search out these renewed dated coins, which takes a great deal of time and some cost over face value, there is no limit to what a collector on a budget may discover.

“Through my many searches, I have been able to secure an acid treated 1916 DDO (doubled-die obverse) nickel and a 1918/7-D overdate example. I believe that there may be a bright future for these discovered coins at very reasonable prices.”

Will his optimism for date-restored coins prove to be prophetic?

“I have read that a scarce acid-dated Buffalo nickel maybe worth say 30 percent of a nontreated, good condition example,” he wrote.

Whether treating Buffaloes with acid to restore missing dates becomes a popular new again way to collect, this hobbyist is obviously having a good time with it.

He closed his email with a wish to all, “Happy Coin Collecting.”
He also sent along photographs of a couple of slabbed varieties that would be quite valuable in a more pristine state.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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