In 2017, the United States Mint continued to offer two versions of the 1-ounce American Gold Buffalo $50 Bullion and Proof.
Likely because of gold spot prices rising by about 13% that year, sales of the American Buffalo Gold $50 Bullion (Buy on eBay) were down sharply, decreasing by 54.7%, or 111,500 coins compared to sales of the bullion version in 2016. There was upward pressure on gold from January through September that played an important role in that major decline in bullion sales.
Sales were stronger initially, reaching 32,500 in January and then continued to decrease almost every month until rebounding in December when 14,000 coins were sold. For the year, the total was 99,500 coins sold, which was not just the lowest since 2006, the first year of issue, but also the second lowest for the entire series to date after 2019. In terms of revenue for the U.S. Mint, the coins sold amounted to $189 million in revenue.
The sharp decline in 2017 bullion sales was not limited to the American Gold Buffalo coin and was part of a broader trend that year which saw sales of other bullion coins decrease by similar amounts, including 63% for $50 Gold Eagles and 52% for Silver Eagles and 5 ounce silver America the Beautiful coins. 2015 was the highwater mark for sales of most bullion coins, especially the silver ones. The decline in 2017 was also likely related to that year’s strong stock market performance with the S&P increasing almost 20%, the Dow over 25%, and the NASDAQ by over 28%.
On May 11, the 2017-W American Buffalo Gold $50 Proof Coin (Buy on eBay) went on sales with no mintage, product or household order limit and an initial price of $1590. By the time sales ended, the price had increased to $1,710 because of the increase in spot gold prices. Opening sales as reported on May 14 were 7,597 coins. Finale sales for the year totaled 15,810, which was 5,000 fewer coins, or 25% less than in 2016.
In addition, the low mintage of proof coins in 2017 made the 2017-W American Gold Buffalo $50 Proof the new lowest mintage proof coin of the series, slightly overtaking the 2015-W, which had acquired a strong secondary market performance at the time. But the 2017 issue only retained its low mintage status temporarily since sales continued to trend lower after that.
Sales of this coin may also have been impacted by competition from the 2017-A American Liberty $100 High-Relief Gold Coin, also made of 24 karat gold, that was issued to mark the U.S. Mint’s 225th anniversary.
2017 Gold Buffalo Specifications
- Bullion Mintage: 99,500
- Proof Mintage: 15,810
- Mint Mark: none (bullion), W (Proof)
- Designer: James Earle Fraser
- Composition: 24 karat (.9999) fine gold
- Weight: 1.0001 troy ounces (31.1035 grams)
- Diameter: 0.116 inches (32.70 mm)
- Thickness: 0.116 inches (2.95 mm)