That coin magnetism spoken of in a previous blog related to buffalo nickels has kicked in again courtesy of an elderly man I help out from time to time.
Seems he was going through various cans, jars, and shoe boxes and ran across an 1874 Indian head penny and passed it on to me – goes into the “gatherers” collection of coins and things to use in various projects.
Kinda piqued my interest so I did a related wiki and discovered that they were minted from 1859 to 1909 – strikes me as a little odd that minting began and continued through the “Indian wars” as depictions on coins, stamps,and such are usually an honorific and during the majority of the minting policies and public sentiment had little if anything to do with honoring the nations as a people.
In 1874, the year this particular coin was minted the Red River War was waged in Texas against the Southern Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowas – that’s a hundred and forty two years ago and yet the inequities remain.
The intent of this war was to break and subsequently remove the above named nations to reservations and basically achieved that goal, even while coins were being produced depicting an indigenous man.
Perhaps it would have been more appropriate, more truthful, to have minted a coin depicting the reality of Sand Creek, Camp Grant, the Washita, or Wounded Knee.
The second photo is said to be a depiction of a battle known as Buffalo Wallow that took place during the Red River War.
I seem to have had something of knack throughout the course of my life for acquiring Buffalo or Indian head nickels though I’m not a numismatist by any stretch of the imagination.
Never really made an effort to acquire any they just seem to come my way.
They don’t remain in my possession for long as they usually become part of a belt, bracelet, wristband, or accompanied by beads and jingles find their way onto a pouch, pipe bag, or some other item made from leather.
Notwithstanding this long association it was only recently that I did a little related research on the net and discovered they were minted from 1913 to 1938 and were designed by James Earle Fraser, apparently a sculptor of some renown.
The “tails” side of the coin employed a buffalo named Black Diamond from the NY Central Park Zoo as a model and the “heads” side is a composite of three indigenous men.
Some depending on condition are said to be worth a fair amount of money, I don’t know if any I’ve ever had were in that number but even so if any were I think the better purpose is served if used in Indigenous arts and crafts.
Different people I know have at times come up with one or two and offered them to me – such was the case yesterday when I acquired five more.
All showing a fair amount wear and in need of a little gentle cleaning but to be expected considering age and the fact that were they minted using a mixture of nickel and copper.
Like I said though, they don’t stay in my possession long and plans have already been made for them.
I used to do some sand casting, buckles,pendants, and bracelets – haven’t for a while but thinking of doing so again.
I only mention that as I have made belts using sand cast pieces, conchos, and at times this type of nickel.
A few in really nice condition have been set aside with the idea when more in comparable condition are gathered they will be used to create something special.