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Coin Of the Month

Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin

Indian Head/Buffalo Nickel (1913–1937)

Hey there!  It's me, Bill the Mint Buffalo!  I have a coin to show you that has a mighty handsome fella on it.  The coin is called the "Indian Head" nickel or the "Buffalo" nickel...and the good-looking fella I'm talking about is that bison on the reverse!

June is a really good month to talk about this nickel, because this is the month in which the Battle of Little Bighorn was fought.  This battle is also known as "Custer's Last Stand."  It got its real name from the Little Big Horn River in Montana, near where the battle took place in 1876.  Its nickname comes from General George Custer, who died there with all his men.

Custer was sent by the U.S. Army to fight against the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians, who were trying to protect their lands from settlers and gold miners.  Custer's 7th cavalry (soldiers on horseback) attacked without realizing that they were greatly outnumbered (10 to one).

This wonderful coin was designed by an artist who grew up on a South Dakota prairie, where the buffalo actually roamed...but his model for the animal, according to legend, was a bison who lived in the Bronx Zoo in New York City named "Black Diamond."

Bill, the Mint Buffalo

OBVERSE: Indian Head/Buffalo Nickel (1913-1938)
Obverse:  The sculptor James Fraser, who designed the coin, felt that a nickel with an Indian's head on the obverse and a buffalo on the reverse would be typically American.

REVERSE: Indian Head/Buffalo Nickel (1913-1938)
Reverse:  The first version of the coin has a buffalo standing on a mound; the second version has a buffalo standing on a flat base.

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