Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 32

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Lot 1586

1920-S Buffalo Nickel. PCGS graded MS-64. Quite lustrous and naturally toned. A gorgeous specimen for the MS64 grade (PCGS # 3946) .

It appears that even the artist who designed this piece, James Earle Fraser, preferred the familiar term "buffalo" to the more zoologically correct bison. Semantic aside, the model for the nickel's reverse is known to have been a bull named Black Diamond. This animal was then a resident of New York City's Central Park Zoo and was already about seventeen years old at the time. Fraser's own correspondence reveals his exasperation in attempting to keep this beast posed in profile as depicted on the coin. Evidently quite uncooperative, it insisted on confronting the artist head on and would return to this stance immediately after being corrected.

Black Diamond has occasionally been cited as the model for the $10 United States Note of 1901, the so-called "buffalo bill." This attribution is incorrect, as the greenback actually portrays Pablo, a star attraction at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. This mistaken identity is understandable, as the $10 note was in use alongside the nickel through the late 1920s. (For a detailed account of this fascinating coin, see David W. Lange's The Complete Guide to Buffalo Nickels..
Estimated Value $4,000 - 4,500.


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