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[1913-1938] Indian Head "Buffalo" Nickels

In 1913 the Five Cent Piece underwent the most extreme redesign under the care of engraver James Earl Fraser. This new design maintained the same composition as earlier "Nickels" but replaced the bust of Liberty with a bold Native American bust on the obverse while the reverse bore a planchet-wide bison. The Fraser designed "Buffalo Nickel" was minted from 1913 till 1938. It has been suggested that the Buffalo Nickel design was an attempt to end the personification of Liberty on U.S. coinage. It is also suggested that the employment of the Native American bust condemned the Buffalo Nickel to a short life, though not as short as some initially predicted. This was because of the Act of September 25, 1890 which forbid alterations in design to U.S. coins any more frequently than every 25 years. The Buffalo Nickel, having been first minted in 1913, could not be replaced until 1938.

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