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Where do Buffalo Roam?
March 07, 2011



As I was transiting the Dallas-Fort Worth airport on Saturday, I stopped at a McDonald’s to get a late lunch.

In my change came a 2005-D Buffalo nickel. It surprised me. I know it shouldn’t. The design is six years old. I was well aware of its issuance.

But actually getting one in my change is a very rare occurrence. Straining my memory because I did not keep track in any written form, I want to write that I have received one of these new Buffalo nickels perhaps a half dozen times in six years. That’s not often for a design where 936 million were struck, some 488 million from Denver alone.

Where did they all go?

It is a rare event to see any of the four designs produced in 2004 and 2005 as part of the Westward Journey series that celebrated the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806.

I suppose it is simply a matter of mathmatical odds. The approximately one billion coins with the Buffalo design are not many when weighed against the whole output of the Mint of the Jefferson nickel since production began in 1938, but the more recent production should count for something.

It is possible that the design was trapped in the banking system due to the financial collapse of 2008. If there is any truth to this hypothesis then I will encounter more of the Buffalo coins in future.

I would like that. It is a great design. It reminds me of the old Buffalo nickel, which I treasured in my circulation finds days back in the 1960s.

Take a look at your change. Do you see the Buffalo design very often?



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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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