Our buffalo nickel jewelry is one of our most popular collections because it’s built on a legacy of pride, honor and courage. The US Buffalo nickel, a coin collector’s gem, is graced with the American buffalo on one side, and an awe-inspiring Indian chief.
But who is the man that has become so famous for his portrait on the US buffalo nickel? And why is it that his face represents the legacy we can all be inspired by?
The Truth Behind the Face of the Buffalo Nickel
The iconic Native American portrait on the Buffalo Nickel is not based on the image of no one man. James Earle Fraser, the designer of the coin, grew up in the late 19th century frontier land of Minnesota, where he had a lot of experiences with Native Americans. At the time, Native Americans were being pushed further West or penned up into Indian reservations. As he encountered the natives of his land, Fraser was struck by the strength and grace of their culture.
As he built a career for himself as an artist and sculptor, Fraser continued to visit the theme of Native Americans. He was determined to accurately portray them for their true depth of character and culture. He had several Native Americans, including three Native American chiefs, pose for him for different occasions.
When Fraser was commissioned to design a new 5 cent nickel in 1911, he decided that if he was really going to inspire respect and admiration in his profile of a Native American, eh had to combine the most striking aspects of the 3 different Native American chiefs he’d formerly sketched. The Native American chiefs he used were Chief Iron Tail of the Sioux Tribe, Big Tree of Kiowa, and Two Moons of Cheyenne, the chief who'd fought in the battle of Bighorn.
Chief Iron Trail Of the Sioux Tribe:
Big Tree of Kiowa:
Two Moons of Cheyenne
The First Accurate Portrayal of Native Americans
Up until then, no American artist had been able to accurately portray Native American on US coins. All other attempts had pathetically produced a Caucasian white man's face and features wearing a Native American headdress. We see an example of this here on the 1907 Indian eagle coin:
Buffalo Nickel Jewelry and It’s Charm
We can see that the love and respect Fraser had for Native Americans is what makes this coin so legendary. There is so much pain and conflict in the history between Native Americans and the Western settlers of the United States. Many “Indian” mascots or portrayals in US art and culture have been met with anger. But Fraser’s portrayal of a strong Native American character, has created a legacy of honor.
In the last few years, there's been a renewed collector interest in the Buffalo Nickel series, stimulated by the wealth of new research published by nickel specialists. Demand is strong for the nickels, and even stronger for the unique buffalo nickel jewelry that takes these special coins to the next level.
With our collection of buffalo nickel jewelry, we invite you to find the strength and courage within the symbols that best represent you, and make a legacy for yourself.