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1926-S Buffalo Nickel, MS65
Acknowledged Key to the Series
None Certified Finer at PCGS

1926-S 5C MS65 PCGS Secure. CAC. The 1926-S is the scarcest regular issue in the Buffalo nickel series. Only 970,000 pieces were struck, explaining its #1 rarity rating (this, of course, excludes the overdate and 1916 Doubled Die since they were not regular production issues). Examination of the price structure for the 1926-S reveals why it is the undisputed key to the series. Low-grade coins are cheap, under $50. But in VF the price jumps to the $400 range. Then it doubles in XF. It triples once the AU level is reached. It doubles again at the threshold of Uncirculated. Want a Gem, such as this coin? Stand in line. Only 17 total pieces have been certified by both services, and over the past five years they have brought between $50,000 and $120,000.

A couple of conclusions can be drawn from examining these prices. One is that all collectors of this series know: It takes very little circulation to drop a high-grade Buffalo nickel to a dateless one; thus, the high prices for XF-AU coins. These coins must have been pulled from circulation at just the right time to still retain details and partial luster. A second conclusion is collectors and hoarders were not aware early-on about the significance of the 1926-S. Since they are so cheap in low grades, obviously many were pulled from circulation (probably in the 1950s), but very few were set aside in 1926 or shortly afterward.

The 1926-S is a premier strike rarity from the 1920s. It is believed that the reverse die was left over from a previous year, accounting for the general softness of detail. This piece is better struck than almost any example we have seen. There is some high-point softness on the reverse on the bison's head and tail, but the obverse is remarkably well-defined. The centers are powder-blue and surrounded at the margins by golden-rose and blue iridescence. The mint luster is bright and satiny, glowing beneath the lovely patina. By way of identification, there are two small spots in the lower right obverse field out from the neck of the Indian. This coin should find a home in the finest collection or Registry Set. Population: 13 in 65, 0 finer (8/13).
Ex: Chicago Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 4/2008), lot 218, where it brought $322,000, which still remains the record price for a 1926-S nickel.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 22S7, PCGS# 3959)

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Auction Dates
September, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 5
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