In 1911, Treasury Secretary Franklin MacVeagh hired designer James Earle Fraser to design the new nickel. The Buffalo Nickel is also known as the Indian Head and Bison Nickel. The obverse design features the profile of a Native American. The profile design came from a composite portrait of three Native Americans: Iron Tail, an Olga Sioux Chief, Two Moons, a Cheyenne Chief, and Big Tree, a Kiowa Chief. The Buffalo on the reverse side was supposedly modeled after Black Diamond from the New York Central Park Zoo.
Soon after the release of the Buffalo Nickel in 1913, problems arose due to the high relief of the "FIVE CENTS" on the reverse side wearing out. The design was modified by Charles Barber. Therefore, as of 1913, there are two varieties of the Buffalo Nickel knows as: FIVE CENTS on Raised Ground and FIVE CENTS in RECESS. Overlooked was the date on the Buffalo Nickel, which was also placed in reliefed which has exposed it to heavy wear. The issue was never addressed by the US Mint, therefore, many Buffalo Nickels have their date partially or completely worn due to circulation.
Another Interesting variety of the Buffalo Nickel was produced in 1937. The 1937-D "3-legged" Buffalo Nickel from the Denver Mint is very rare. The right foreleg of the Buffao was accidentally ground off in the process of removing undesirable marks from the die. The Buffalo Nickel was issued from 1913-1938 by the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints.