Indian Head Nickel Ring
My personal favorite of all American coins is The Indian Head Nickel, also known as the Buffalo Nickel. I feel ashamed with the way our ancestors treated the Native Americans, but it's still our history, good or bad. I chose to showcase the Native American profile rather than the bison because I have so much respect for Native American culture. I hope that we can one day do away with our consumerist society and get back to co-existing with the land and its creatures. These coins are not only a reminder of that dark chapter of our American history but also a reminder that humans can live in harmony with the land. When I found three of these coins at a flea market, I had to have them.
The Indian Head Nickel was minted from 1913 to 1938. The Taft administration wanted to beautify American coins and sought out artists to re-design the nickel. James Earl Fraser was awarded the commission with his Native American and Bison design. In a radio interview, Fraser said, "when I was asked to do a nickel, I felt I wanted to do something totally American—a coin that could not be mistaken for any other country's coin. It occurred to me that the buffalo, as part of our western background, was 100% American, and that our North American Indian fitted into the picture perfectly."
While many Native Americans took claim to being the model for the nickel, in 1913 Fraser clarified in a letter to the Mint Director, that "[b]efore the nickel was made I had done several portraits of Indians, among them Iron Tail, Two Moons, and one or two others, and probably got characteristics from those men in the head on the coins, but my purpose was not to make a portrait but a type." There was much interest in who the bison was as well. Fraser clarified that the animal, "was not a plains buffalo, but none other than Black Diamond, the contrariest animal in the Bronx Zoo. I stood for hours ... He refused point blank to permit me to get side views of him, and stubbornly showed his front face most of the time."
The Indian Head Nickel was well received by the American public. Once a coin is minted, it must stay in production for 25 years. The Indian Head Nickel was replaced by the Jefferson Nickel in 1938. Today, the Indian Head coin is coveted by coin collectors and historians.
The Indian Nickel is set in a copper and brass decorative bezel. The band is pure copper with art nouveau etching. The ring shown is from 1926 and is a size 7. I can re-create this ring with other coins of this era in any size specified. Please note that the dates and quality of the coin will vary as they are tiny pieces of American history. If you prefer the buffalo side be showcased rather than the Indian Head, please message me. I craft each ring by hand so please allow up to two weeks for making time. I will most likely get it done within one week but I do travel for shows and that takes me out of the studio from time to time. Message me for rush orders.
"A Guide Book of United States Coins, 42nd Edition 1989" by R. S. Yeoman