On March 15, 2012, the United States Mint began sales of the 2012 Proof Gold Buffalo. The release date occurred earlier compared to the prior year release, and in fact represented the earliest release date for a collector version of the series. Following several years of struggling to meet growing demand for precious metals products, the Mint finally made significant progress in expanding production and releasing coins earlier.
Designs for the Proof Gold Buffalo remained the same as used for all prior releases of the series. The obverse featured the portrait of a Native American chief prepared based on a composite of three real life models. The reverse depicted the American Bison, commonly referred to as a “buffalo,” standing on a mound. The design was created by James Earle Fraser and previously used on the circulating five cent coin from 1913 to 1938.
Each coin was struck in 24 karat gold, representing only one of a handful of gold products offered by the United States Mint in 99.99% purity. Only one ounce sized versions were available for sale.
The initial price for the 2012 Proof American Gold Buffalo was $1,960 per coin. This was established based on the an average gold price of $1,650 to $1,699.99 for the weekly period leading up to the release. For the duration of the offering, pricing remained subject to potential change on a weekly basis based on prevailing gold market prices. The lowest price point during the offering was $1,860 per coin.
As with other recent years, the US Mint did not establish a maximum mintage. The coins remained available for the duration of the calendar year and into the following. A sell out occurred on January 18, 2013, resulting in an availability period of around ten months. The final audited mintage was 19,715, at the time representing the second lowest figure for a one ounce proof coin of the series.
2012 Proof Gold Buffalo Specifications:
Mint Mark: W
Designer: James Earle Fraser
Composition: 24 karat (.9999 ) fine gold
Weight: 1.0001 troy ounce (31.1035 g)
Diameter: 1.287 inches (32.70 mm)
Thickness: 0.116 inches (2.95 mm)