The Buffalo nickel or Indian Head nickel was a copper-
As part of a drive to beautify the coinage, five denominations of US coins had received new designs between 1907 and 1909. In 1911, Taft administration officials decided to replace Charles E. Barber's Liberty Head design for the nickel, and commissioned Fraser to do the work. They were impressed by Fraser's designs showing a Native American and an American bison. The designs were approved in 1912, but were delayed several months because of objections from the Hobbs Manufacturing Company, which made mechanisms to detect slugs in nickel-
Despite attempts by the Mint to adjust the design, the coins proved to strike indistinctly, and to be subject to wear—the dates were easily worn away in circulation. In 1938, after the expiration of the minimum 25-
The coins were officially released to circulation on March 4, 1913, and quickly gained positive comments as depicting truly American themes. However, The New York Times stated in an editorial that "The new 'nickel' is a striking example of what a coin intended for wide circulation should not be ...[it] is not pleasing to look at when new and shiny, and will be an abomination when old and dull." The Numismatist, in March and May 1913 editorials, gave the new coin a lukewarm review, suggesting that the Indian's head be reduced in size and the bison be eliminated from the reverse.
The piece was struck by the tens of millions, at all three mints (Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco), through the remainder of the 1910s. In 1921, a recession began, and no nickels at all were struck the following year. The low mintage for the series was the 1926-
When the Buffalo nickel had been in circulation for the minimum 25 years, it was replaced with little discussion or protest. The problems of die life and weak striking had never been solved, and Mint officials advocated its replacement. In January 1938, the Mint announced an open competition for a new nickel design, to feature early President Thomas Jefferson on the obverse, and Jefferson's home, Monticello on the reverse. In April, Felix Schlag was announced as the winner. The last Buffalo nickels were struck in April 1938, at the Denver Mint, the only mint to strike them that year. On October 3, 1938, production of the Jefferson nickel began, and they were released into circulation on November 15.