Three-Legged 1937-D Nickel, MS66
1937-D 5C Three-Legged MS66 NGC. PCGS now lists several
"major varieties" on its CoinFacts web site for the Buffalo nickel
series. In addition to the 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo, they
include the two PDS subtypes of 1913, the controversial 1914/3
overdate, the 1916 Doubled Die Obverse and 1935 Doubled Die
Reverse, the 1918/7-D, the 1936-D 3-1/2 Legs, and the 1938-D/D and
Among the Finest Known
None of those other varieties, even though some are many times more elusive, can match the lasting celebrity and unending desirability of the 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo. The "Three-Legged Buffalo," for short, as it is often called, is one of those rare numismatic items that has managed to cross the divide into popular culture, along with the "1943 copper penny" and, perhaps, the 1909-S VDB cent. While non-numismatists may not be exactly aware of the exact significance of those coin issues, it is a safe bet that most members of the noncollecting public have heard of at least one of those coin issues. And many numismatists, upon revealing their collecting predilections, have been greeted with a leer and a "Betcha don't have a Three-Legged Buffalo!" from noncollectors, as though the variety were some unicorn or other mythical creature.
It is, of course, widely obtainable in nearly all grades, but it sees unceasing demand as the most popularly collected variety in one of the most beloved series in all of U.S. numismatics. The PCGS Registry Set composition is such that the 1937-D Three-Legged is actually a member of two Registry Sets, the Major Varieties and Complete Varieties sets. The current Major Variety Set Composition awards the Three-Legged eight points--more than any other variety except for the 1916 Doubled Die Obverse and the 1918/7-D. The Complete Variety Set also awards the Three-Legged eight points. By way of comparison, the 1936-D 3-1/2 Legs gets nine points, as do many other varieties in that set, while a couple of other varieties top out at 10 points.
But to reinforce a theme, the 1937-D Three-Legged is much more than "just" another variety. In fact, there is a subset of type collectors who choose one popular key issue from each series -- and for them as well, the Three-Legged Buffalo fills the bill. This is a Premium Gem example of this popular variety that displays bright, satiny mint luster and subtly variegated golden, lilac, and rose toning on each side. The strike details are uncommonly strong for a Three-Legger, and the only marks of any note are in the upper reverse field above the bison's hump. Census: 16 in 66, 2 finer (3/12).(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 22SX, PCGS# 3982)
Weight: 5.00 grams
Metal: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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