In order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of James Earle Fraser’s classic design, the United States Mint offered a special version of the 2013 American Gold Buffalo Coin with a reverse proof finish. Collector anticipation was high for this special issue which represented the first time the reverse proof finish was used for the popular 24 karat gold coin series.
The design for the American Gold Buffalo comes from James Earle Fraser’s design for the 1913 Type One Buffalo Nickel. The obverse features the profile portrait of a Native American, which was created based on a composite of three real life models. The reverse features the profile of an American Bison standing on a mound, which is based on Black Diamond of the Central Park Zoo. With slight alterations, the design was used for the circulating five cent piece from 1913 to 1938.
The United States Mint initially considered a number of different options for celebrating the centennial of the design, which included a special two coin set, the return of collectible uncirculated options and/or fractional proofs, and even utilizing a different design as allowed under the authorizing legislation.
In May 2013, the US Mint announced that they would be offering a reverse proof version of the coin, which would be sold individually. The coin would feature the opposite arrangement of finishes as found on the standard proof, with the raised design elements mirrored and the background fields frosted. The reverse proof finish had been previously used for the American Gold, Silver, and Platinum Eagles, but never for the American Gold Buffalo coins. Additionally, this represented only the second time that more than one collector version of the Gold Buffalo was offered during a single year. The last occurrence was in 2008, when offerings had been expanded to include collectible uncirculated coins and fractional proofs.
The 2013 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo was available for ordering during a four week window, which opened on August 8, 2013 at 12:00 Noon ET and concluded on September 5, 2013 at 5:00 PM ET. Within the first 30 minutes, orders were received for 12,630 units, which exceeded the sales total for the regular proof version of the coin, which had been on sale for two and a half months. After a full day, sales had climbed to 21,009 units.
Adding some excitement to the sales period, the US Mint offered 1,000 of the reverse proof coins at their booth at the ANA convention on August 13. This actually represented the first opportunity for the public to purchase the coins and have them in hand. The 1,000 units quickly sold out and dealers at the convention offered immediate premiums for anyone willing to sell their coins. Later in the week, the US Mint offered another 1,000 units, which also quickly sold out as premiums escalated. Third party coin grading companies encapsulated the coins obtained and submitted at the convention with special “Chicago ANA Convention” labels, which have continued to command a premium.
When the four week ordering window for the 2013 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo closed, sales reached 47,836. Although this is on the high end of the mintage range for the series, the special nature of the offering has kept the issue popular and in demand with collectors.
2013 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo Specifications:
Last Reported Sales: 47,836
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)