1937-D Three Leg Buffalo Nickel: How To Authenticate And Identify
1937-D Three Leg Buffalo Nickels one of the earlier mint errors that became a variety, and help cause the variety collecting frenzy we see today. Three Leg or 3 Leg is also the first positive pet name given to a variety, before that you had Large Cent names like Booby Head.
The 1937-D is easy to identify and authenticate once you realize how this happened and learn what to look for. A certain die for the 1937-D Buffalo clashed without a nickel planchet in between them so mint employees polished the dies to remove the clash marks, and in the process the middle portion of the front leg was polished off. So all authentic Three Leg Buffalos will have the hoof remaing.
Another fact about the dies is they where over-worked and show signs of metal fatigue so the reverse will have what appears to be "wrinkles" and bumps, especially just inside the perimeter of the rim. Furthermore, there's a line of fatigue running from inside the back leg and to the ground coin the phrase "it looks like it's peeing".
Before you buy what you think is a authentic 1937-D 3 Leg Buffalo Nickel, make sure you look closely at the images provided and look at certified examples, or buy an example that's already certified by PCGS, NGC or ANACS.
Avoid buying raw examples unless you're 100% positive it's authentic. Furthermore avoid buying possible 1937-D 3 Leg Buffalo Nickel from ebay sellers IF they state things like: "I will let you decide if it's authentic." or "Is it an authentic 1916-D?" or "I am not a coin dealer so I will let the bidders decide."
You just can't afford to take a chance and buy a fake or altered key date and if a seller doesn't know the facts then they shouldn't be selling such an expensive coin to begin with and you most certainly shouldn't buy from them.
Circulated examples can be a bit of a problem since a lot of the die fatigue diagnostics has been worn off, however you should still see remnants of this on the reverse and it must have the hoof of the front missing leg. You can also see some die fatigue on the back of the Indian Bust's neck of the obverse. Compare the images of a worn 1937-D Three Leg above to the uncirculated example below and notice the similarites regardless of their condition.