1918/7-D BUFFALO - TYPE 2 5C
In 1918, World War I was coming to an end and the United States was showing itself to be a premier world power. The US spent an estimated $32 billion to fund the war effort, one fifth of that coming from the creation of notes and coins. The 1918/7 buffalo nickel is additionally important given the unusually large proportion of small change minted from 1917 to 1918. Therefore, this buffalo nickel, produced by the fastest growing economy in the world, was in no small way part of a war effort that helped to ensure a world in which the United States would lead the international community for the coming century.
Along with the 1916/16 Doubled Die Obverse and the 1937-D 3-Legged, the 1918/7-D is the most popular variety in the 1913-1938 Buffalo Nickel series. The '18/7-D is much rarer than the '37-D 3-Legged, and it is only marginally less so than the '16-P DDO. This overdate was created because the booming United States economy of the World War I years resulted in an insatiable demand for circulating coinage. Sometime at the end of 1917, when the Engraving Department in the Philadelphia Mint was preparing dies for both 1917-dated and 1918-dated coinage, a Mint employee took a Buffalo Nickel obverse die that had already received an impression from a 1917-dated hub and gave it a second impression from a 1918-dated hub. Whether this was done intentionally or by mistake is not known, but we do know that this die was shipped west for use in the Denver Mint as part of the facility's 1918-D Buffalo Nickel delivery. That certain 1918-D Nickels actually show traces of a 7 underneath the final digit in the date was discovered by numismatists as long ago as 1931. This fact notwithstanding, few genuine 1918/7-D Nickels have been authenticated over the years, and the overdate remains rare in an absolute sense and excessively so in Mint State.
The Type II Buffalo Nickel series ran from 1913 through 1938, and it is one of the most widely collected series in all of U.S. numismatics. This type was created when the Mint discovered that the Type I Buffalo Nickel did not hold up well in circulation. In particular, the placement of the reverse denomination FIVE CENTS on a raised mound was most unfortunate because this critical feature rapidly wore away with use. In the new Type II design, the Mint placed the denomination in exergue below the straight line upon which the bison was now made to stand. Additionally, Mint Engraver Charles E. Barber (who carried out the modifications to James Earle Fraser's original work) also smoothed out the fields and slightly modified the Native American's portrait on the obverse and the reverse bison which had the result of erasing much of the charming rusticity of the Type I design. While Barber might have envisioned that his changes would improve the durability of the design, this did not happen. Even more significantly for today's numismatic buyers, the new design did not strike up as well as its Type I counterpart, and there are many issues in the Type II series that are extremely difficulty to locate even with bold definition. Quality-conscious collectors and investors are encouraged to focus on examples in the higher Mint State grades, at which levels the leading third-party certification services are keen to take strike into account when forming their assessment of the individual coin.