PCGS Coin of the Week: 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo Nickel

1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo Nickel

Coin collectors love variety — especially when that variety comes in the form of varieties — plural. And one of the most popular of these varieties is the 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo nickel, an oddity that arose from overzealous polishing of a worn reverse die. The result was the (presumably) inadvertent removal of most of the American bison’s front foreleg on the reverse of the coin.

The 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo nickel gained incredible attention in numismatics during the hobby’s boom times after World War II and became one of the most important varieties. Its significance as a rare and storied error-variety coin is rivaled by perhaps only the 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln cent, and it’s a highly sought after piece usually collected alongside regular-issue Buffalo nickels by advanced series specialists.

While the 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo nickel trades for several hundred dollars in low- to mid-level circulated grades, it’s extremely rare in the Gem Mint State grades of MS65 and higher. Professional Coin Grading Service has certified only 12 in MS66 and just three in MS66+, with none graded higher by the world’s leading third-party coin grader. One of these very rare specimens graded MS66 appeared in a January 2021 Heritage Auctions event, where it realized an astounding $52,800.


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