Coin collectors know that 1921 was a pretty lean year for most United States coins, and Buffalo nickels were no exception to the lower mintages of 1921. This was largely due to the fact that the United States Mint was focusing its efforts on producing tens of millions of 1921 Morgan dollars to satisfy requirements of the Pittman Act of 1918. While 10,663,000 Buffalo nickels were made at the Philadelphia mint, only 1,557,000 were struck in San Francisco (and none were made at the Denver mint that year).
These very low yields resulted in some relatively high price tags for 1921 Buffalo nickels, particularly for those minted in San Francisco. In fact, the 1921-S Buffalo nickel is considered a semi-key coin, and its price definitely reflects that fact. Expect to pay at least $75 to $100 for a decent example in Good to Very Good – this same piece sets collectors back nearly $2,000 for a specimen in Mint State 60! 1921 Buffalo nickels struck at the Philadelphia mint are far less costly, at around $5 for an example in Good-4 (and around $150 in Mint State 60).
Whether you seek a 1921, 1921-S, or both, you’ll definitely need to spend some extra time looking for well-struck Buffalo nickels. Virtually every issue from the series features a pretty weak strike, and this is largely owing to the design, which was quite difficult for the dies to articulate well.
A recession in 1921 prompted the United States Mint to not strike any Buffalo nickels in 1922.