[The following excerpt is published courtesy of DLRC Press and its author, David W. Lange. This information was originally published in 2006 in The Complete Guide to Buffalo Nickels.]
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to the Third Edition
Who imagined that so much could happen with the Buffalo Nickel series in just six years? That’s how long it has been since the previous edition of this book was published in 2000.
At that time legislation was pending that would revive James Earle Fraser’s popular design as a commemorative coin. Such a bill had been kicking around Congress since 1992, and its language had changed almost annually to suit the shifting priorities of politics. As ultimately passed, both the original coin proposal and the intended funding recipient had been forgotten, and the coin that was issued in 2001 became a silver dollar! Aside from the addition of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST, the changing of the denomination, the placement of the date incused and the addition of a reeded edge, the coin offered to collectors still bore a passable resemblance to the original nickel of 1913. The sculpting was in lower relief, and Black Diamond’s legs had been awkwardly shortened to accommodate the motto, but the coin appealed to collectors to such a degree that it sold out within days and remains well above issue price in the secondary market.
As this book goes to press, collectors are once again anticipating a revival of Fraser’s nickel, this time in the form of a one-ounce, .999 fine gold bullion coin that will be the size of the American Eagle gold one ounce coins. A more exact reproduction of the nickel models has been specified, though some compromise will need to be made with respect to the inscriptions citing its bullion content. It’s likely that this new coin will prove to be nearly as popular as the 2001 silver dollar, though its high intrinsic value will impose some limit on sales. This is truly the coin design that will not die!
In 2005, approximately half of the circulating and proof nickels struck by the U. S. Mint featured a bison on their reverse in commemoration of Lewis & Clark’s Voyage of Discovery Bicentennial. Judging by how few of these pieces are encountered in circulation, widespread hoarding seems to be the order of the day, once again validating the popularity of the American buffalo as an icon for our coinage. Whether this new Buffalo Nickel will have any broad impact on the collecting of vintage pieces remains to be seen, though it’s clear that the numerous marketing tie-ins of the old and new coins have raised prices for the former, even in well worn condition.
Irrespective of these developments, the increased demand for 1913-38 Buffalo Nickels across all grades has raised prices dramatically since the last edition of this book appeared in 2000. It would have been easy enough to simply reprint that edition as often as needed, but the publisher and I agreed that the market has undergone too much activity in recent years to let such price increases go unacknowledged. In addition, a number of important varieties have been either confirmed or more broadly priced since that time, and this information will be of great interest to specialists.
My own interest in the Buffalo Nickel series continues, despite having sold my primary collection following publication of the first edition in 1992. Just for fun, I recently assembled a new collection in grades VG-VF, approximating a much earlier collection that I had put together as a child. There was one important difference this time in that I really knew which qualities make a coin desirable to the experienced eye, irrespective of grade. All pieces are problem-free, completely original (uncleaned) examples that have matching color and surface quality. Furthermore, all of them have fully readable dates, something that is quite elusive in worn Buffalo Nickels from the early years. The final entry was 1913-S Type 1. In my frustration at not finding a complete date on more worn examples, I was compelled to buy one grading nearly XF. Such are the discoveries that one makes when assembling a set of these wonderful coins, and I’ve tried to impart all of my experience with Buffalo Nickels into the pages of this book.
There have been others changes since 2000 that have nothing to do with Buffalo Nickels, but which are central to my own voyage in life. My longtime employer, NGC, moved us all to Florida the following year. While very different from our former home in New Jersey, it has both advantages and disadvantages. Life is more relaxing here, and there’s no snow to shovel, but I do miss the more lively numismatic scene in the Garden State. The annual convention and coin show of the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) draws many familiar faces out of the frigid North to renew old friendships each January.
My lovely fiancee, Alba, to whom I became engaged about the time that the 2000 edition was published, shortly thereafter became my wife, and we are very happy in our new, sunny home. Our daughter, Amanda, who at one time showed some inclination toward the coin hobby, is now involved in more typical teenage pursuits, but she too is well. Someday, perhaps.
As I don’t anticipate doing another edition of this book in the future, I will leave you the readers with my wish that you too will find continued enjoyment in collecting and studying Buffalo Nickels and in the reading of this book. A fascination with Buffalo Nickels is among my earliest memories of childhood, and indeed these old coins are timeless.
David W. Lange
April 18, 2000