Continued from Part I
A buffalo (bison) named Black Diamond, who was a resident of the New York Zoological Park served as the model. Fraser utilized a little artistic freedom to depict the bison as though he was on the Great Plains. A few years after the release of the nickel, Black Diamond was sold to a meat packing plant who then sold him as Black Diamond steaks despite numerous attempts to save him. The stuffed head of Black Diamond was displayed at a major coin convention during the 1980’s.
The American Indian fascinated Fraser, so much so that it was no surprise he chose an Indian design for the 5-cent coin design. Fraser, who grew up in the Dakota Territory in the 1880’s was a witness to the slaughter of the American buffalo and the destruction of the way of life of Native Americans of the Great Plains. By creating the Buffalo Nickel, Fraser was able to honor and preserve an important part of American history.
The preliminary sketches were very impressive and Mint Director George E. Roberts, who also had held that post when President Roosevelt revamped the coinage, was highly enthusiastic. Although the designs were, on general...