Guide to the American Gold Buffalo
The American Gold Buffalo was introduced by the United States Mint in 2006 as a new 24 karat gold bullion coin. Production was authorized under Public Law 109-145, dated December 22, 2005. The new program was created in addition to the existing American Eagle Bullion Coin Program, which included coins struck in 22 karat gold.
The Gold Buffalo coins feature the design of the Indian Head or Buffalo Nickel. This collector favorite was designed by James Earle Fraser and used for the circulating five cent coin from 1913 to 1938. The obverse features the portrait of a Native American based on a composite of three real life subjects. The reverse depicts an American bison on a mound, believed to be modeled after Black Diamond of the Central Park Zoo.
For Precious Metals Investors
This series represented the first .9999 fine 24 karat gold coins ever produced by the United States Mint. The new coins were created in part to compete with 24 karat gold bullion offerings from other world mints, such as the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf and the Chinese Gold Panda.
The bullion coins were first available on June 20, 2006 through the U.S. Mint’s network of authorized purchasers. These large scale bullion dealers purchase directly from the United States Mint and then resell the coins to other dealers and the public. They are also responsible for creating a two way market to ensure liquidity. The one ounce bullion coins have been produced each year from 2006 to present. Pricing is typically based on the market price of gold plus a mark up. Premiums may be paid for higher grade coins encapsulated by one of the major third party grading companies.
For Coin Collectors
Since 2006, the U.S. Mint has offered a proof version of the American Gold Buffalo for collectors. These coins are minted using a special process which create a high quality finish with cameo contrast. Raised elements of the coin design appear frosted, while background fields are mirrored. For 2006 and 2007, the one ounce Proof Gold Buffalo was the only version of the coin produced for collectors.
For 2008, the U.S. Mint expanded the range of offerings to include collectible uncirculated versions of the coins, which were struck on specially burnished blanks and carried the “W” mint mark. The coins were offered in a range of weights including 1 ounce, 1/2 ounce, 1/4 ounce, and 1/10 ounce coins with a comprehensive four coin set also available. That same year, the proof offerings were expanded to include fractional weight coins and a mutli-coin set.
Despite a favorable response from collectors, the U.S. Mint announced the discontinuation of the fractional proof and collectible uncirculated coins after 2008. In the following years the standard collector offering has been the 1 ounce proof version. In 2013, a special reverse proof version of the coin was offered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of James Earle Fraser’s design.
Composition and Specifications
The composition of the Gold Buffalo is 24 karat (.9999) fine gold. Each coin contains its stated weight in pure gold. By law, the gold is required to be derived from newly mined domestic sources. As with other bullion programs, the weight, content, and purity of each coin is guaranteed by the United States Government.
The one ounce American Gold Buffalo coins have a weight of 1.0001 ounces, diameter of 32.70 mm, and thickness of 2.95 mm. The edge of each coin is reeded. For collectible offerings, the “W” mint mark appears on the obverse of the coin to the left of the portrait. Bullion coins do not carry a mint mark.