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2005 Buffalo Nickel Error: Value, Charts, Mintmarks (Up to $5,000)

Updated 01 Mar, 2024 •reading-time 6-8'

Ed. note: This article is periodically updated to reflect the current price of most valuable coins.

In Coleccionistas de Monedas, we fight against the misinformation surrounding the world of coins on the web. For this reason, our articles are written 100% by people (not AI), and we link to all sources and references for coin prices, so you can have real, updated, and reliable information.

There are some years when, exceptionally, the reverse has changed to commemorate an event. Some of these special years were 2004 and 2005, as they commemorated the two hundredth anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition. This series of four different nickels is called The Westward Journey Nickels.

In 2005, the old buffaloes we had not seen since 1938 reappeared. The reason for the appearance of these animals is to commemorate the fauna found in the previously mentioned expedition. In addition, on these coins, the obverse design also changes, keeping Jefferson on it like other regular Jefferson nickels.

Key Takeaways

  • Evaluate the amount of wear of your nickel is usually the key aspect to determine the coin’s market value. In some particular cases rarities or errors may raise the price. It is likely to be worth not very much above face value unless it is in uncirculated condition or proof.
  • Selling your valuable or rare nickels by their melt value should always be the last option. A better idea would be to find out all the information about your coin so you can determine the real and updated value.
  • 2005 Bison Nickel Errors: Upward price trend in lower conservations and a drop in value in the higher grades.

2005 Buffalo Nickel Worth Chart coin prices are:

Value chart of Buffalo Nickel 2005
Variety MS63 MS65 MS66 MS67 PROOF
Philadelphia (P) $4 $26-35   $1,000  
Denver (D) $4-5 $12-18    
San Francisco (S)   $25-40
Denver Speared Bison $160-200 $450-550  $2,650    
Bison $4-5 $41 $37 $998  


buffalo nickel 2005 value
Source: NGC

Between 1913 and 1938, the 5-cent coins of the United States of America have a buffalo, an animal native to North America, on the reverse, and a Native Indian on the obverse. They have always maintained the same weight of 5 grams and the material, 75% nickel, and 25% copper.

However, from 1939 to the present, 5-cent coins (or nickels) feature Thomas Jefferson’s image on the obverse and, on the reverse, his residence, Monticello, located in Charlottesville, Virginia.

What are the Buffalo’s like?

buffalo head nickel 2005
Source: NGC

As previously mentioned, the obverse still bears the image of Jefferson, but in this case, it has some peculiarities:

  • The bust is facing to the right, when in other years it was facing to the left.
  • Jefferson’s face is magnified, so we don’t see the whole head.
  • The word “Liberty” is written in cursive calligraphy and is not placed in the circular legend as the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” and the mint year “2005”.

The reverse, which is the part that most attracts our attention, is where the American bison is. It also has some differences with respect to the original piecesthat disappeared in 1938:

buffalo nickel 2005 worth-1920
Source: PCGS
  • The original buffalo faced left in profile, and in 2005, like the Jefferson on the obverse, it faces right.
  • The calligraphy of the circular legend at the top that reads “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” is much larger in 2005, enclosing the buffalo within it as if it were a semicircle.
  • The original “E PLURIBUS UNUM” motto was located under the legend mentioned above, however, in this new design, it is located under the feet of the buffalo.
  • The “FIVE CENTS” is found in both cases at the bottom of the nickel, but in the 2005 version, it is written in a circular fashion like the rest of the upper legend.

How much are the 2005 Buffalo nickels worth?

First of all, it should be said that normally nickels are not very valuable, however, some 2005 nickels with the buffalo design attract a lot of attention and are therefore slightly more valuable than normal. In addition, certain errors that these coins have suffered from have pushed the price to more than a thousand dollars, as we will see later on.

We must be aware that the quality of conservation is key for them to be well valued and therefore the price demanded. Also, the place of minting, also called mint, influences the money that our coin costs.

What types are there?

Most nickels fall into these three categories:

  • Denver (D) and
  • Philadelphia mint (P): usual on this type of coin.
  • Proof version minted in San Francisco (S).

Not all variations are worth the same. Only in Denver was the error made that triggers the price of the currency.

2005 Bison Nickel Errors: Here’s how to check if you have a Valuable Speared

The name of the error is Speared Bison, and as the name says, these are marks that appear to pierce like spears through the American bison on the reverse.

buffalo nickel 2005 d error

How much have the prices of these nickels evolved?

When we review the price tables for the previous 10 years we see a drop in value in the higher grades of varieties with errors in these types of coins. On the contrary, it seems that in slightly lower conservations the price has grown significantly.

The reason may be due to an increase in demand from intermediate collectors who cannot afford “extreme” grades. As for the error market, in preservations higher than MS66 or even MS67, it is always subject to collectors being able to spend thousands of dollars on their acquisitions and perhaps at present, there is no confidence or economic stability due to the ongoing crises.

Does this mean it is a bad time for numismatics? Not at all… it indicates that it is a good time to buy very high grades at a lower price that can appreciate in value over time.

In addition, in high grades such as MS67, the error-free versions have increased in price by more than 50%. In general, there is not so much change in those that lose value, sometimes even just a few dollars.

What’s the origin of 2005 nickel errors?

As we have said before, the error on this coin and the reason it can cost over a thousand dollars is the speared bison, a rare variant of the normal version that appeared at the Denver mint. The reverse error looks like a spear piercing one side of the American buffalo.

The question, in this case, is how does something like this come about?

This type of error is called Die Gouges and arises when the coin is struck. If a foreign object is introduced into the dies that strike the bare coin, it gets stuck in the design. In this case, we can see how this object has been engraved in an elongated and diametrical shape, giving the curious appearance of a spear.

Errors in North American numismatics are always highly valued by collectors because they are very scarce, so they always have high prices. There are many different types of errors such as die breaks, metal excesses, filled dies, etc. All of them change the aesthetics of the coin design.

 The reason for their scarcity is that these errors are controlled so that they do not occur, and if they do occur they quickly correct the fault so that they do not continue to manufacture more defective coins.

How do I expand my collection?

We have many ways to expand our nickel collections. Here are a few ideas for collecting these little nickels year after year.

Commemorative Nickels

value of buffalo nickel 2005 conm
Source: U.S.Mint

One option that helps us to enjoy such a collection is to treasure 5-cent coins that recall an event or celebrate something special through their design.

We can start collecting the other three coins of The Westward Journey Nickels, which as we have said before together with the 2005 Buffalo’s, are part of the commemoration of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition. All of these coins are from 2004 and 2005.

Busts of Thomas Jefferson

In this category, we have three coins with different busts of President Jefferson.

First, the original design that since 1939 was present with Jefferson looking in profile to the left. The next is that of the coin analyzed in this post, which in addition to having the American buffalo on the reverse has a different bust of Jefferson looking to the right and with an enlargement of his face; the same appears on the other commemorative coin of 2005.

Finally, the current “Jefferson” since 2006, faces front on the obverse of the nickels.

Different designs

In this case, we would have to add to the above mentioned, the original buffalo nickels (1913-1938), and also the previous ones, the Liberty Nickels (1883-1913) and the Shield Nickels (1866-1883).

buffalo nickel 2005 upside down
Source: U.S.Mint

Of course, they are expandable to the different variants of each one of them, which will extend the collection much more.

Wrapping up

We can focus on collecting only 5-cent coins with errors, such as the nickel presented in the post. However, I must warn that the list can be long, and there are many counterfeits due to their great value, another drawback if your purchasing power is not very large.

Here’s a quick recap of 2005 Buffalo nickel value:

Coin prices of Buffalo Nickel 2005
Piece MS63 MS65 MS67 PROOF
Philadelphia (P) $4 $26-35 $1,000  
Denver (D) $4-5 $12-18  
San Francisco (S) $25-40
Denver Speared Bison $160-200 $450-550 $5,000  

Is a 2005 P nickel with a buffalo on it worth anything?

Yes, a 2005 P nickel with a buffalo on it could be worth something to collectors. This nickel is known as the “American Bison” nickel and was part of the United States Mint’s Westward Journey nickel series, which commemorated the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The American Bison nickel features a portrait of Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and a depiction of an American bison on the reverse. The United States Mint sculptor-engraver Jamie Franki created the reverse design.

While the American Bison nickel is not particularly rare, it is still a popular collectible among coin enthusiasts. It can be worth more than face value in uncirculated or proof conditions. For example, some uncirculated specimens in original packaging have sold for several dollars at auctions or online marketplaces.

It’s worth noting that not all 2005 P nickels with buffalo on them are part of the Westward Journey series. Some may be ordinary nickels with a buffalo design on the reverse, which would have little numismatic value beyond their face value.

How much is a 2005 Ocean View nickel worth?

A 2005 Ocean View nickel is a part of the United States Mint’s Westward Journey nickel series, which commemorated the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The Ocean View nickel depicts the Pacific Ocean near Oregon on the reverse and a portrait of Thomas Jefferson on the obverse.
In general, 2005 Ocean View nickels are relatively rare and valuable, especially in circulated conditions. However, uncirculated or proof specimens may have some numismatic value to collectors.
As of 2021, uncirculated 2005 Ocean View nickels in their original packaging can be purchased from coin dealers or online marketplaces for a few dollars. Proof specimens in excellent condition may be worth more.

References and sources