AMERICAN GOLD BUFFALO by the United States Mint

The Buffalo was the United States Mints first 24-carat (0.9999) gold bullion coin (the American Gold Eagle is 22-carat) and was introduced for the first time on 22nd June 2006 following its authorisation by Public Law 109-145 in late 2005. It was also known as the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 as the same legislation also required the issuing of a presidential dollar series starting in 2007, along with a redesigned cent in 2009.

Both the obverse and reverse sides showcase images by James Earl Fraser, an acclaimed sculptor once a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, that were used for the five-cent coin known as the Indian Head, or Buffalo Nickel, first introduced in 1913.The Buffalo bullion coin has a denomination of $50 US Dollars and is only available in a one-ounce (31.1 grams) format.

A proof version of the coin was available from the first year and sold very well and in 2008 an uncirculated version with a ‘W’ mintmark was also offered. There was a brief dabble with offering fractional sizes in 2008 (1/2, 1/4, 1/10th), but the range was short-lived and back to just a 1-ounce coin in 2009.The uncirculated variant also failed to make it to 2009.

Widely considered one of the best looking coins in the history of US numismatics, Fraser’s early 20th century work continues to draw admirers the world over and the gold bullion coin enjoys solid annual sales. Not as important a coin as the American Gold Eagle in outright terms, it’s a beautiful piece of work and easily one of the most attractive bullion coins of modern times. One that every collector should have in their collection.


From its first debut in 2006, the design of the Gold Buffalo has remained consistent, based on the type-2 variant of the original Indian Head Dollar from late 1913.

The obverse depicts a Native American that Fraser said was a mixture of the features of three chiefs who posed for him, Big Tree of the Kiowa, Iron Tail of the Lakota, and Two Moons of the Cheyenne. Also present is the motto “LIBERTY” on the top right, the year of mintage on the bottom left, and below that the letter F for Fraser. On proof and uncirculated versions, the mintmark ‘W’ is present, denoting that the coin is struck at the mints West Point facility.

The reverse features a side view of a Buffalo, said to be the bison ‘Black Diamond’ that lived in New Yorks Central Park Zoo during the 1910s.The mound upon which the buffalo stands was taller on the type-1 design from early 1913, but was modified to the current height soon after that same year. The inscription ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’ sits at the top, with smaller inscriptions ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ to the left and ‘E PLURIBUS UNUM’ (out of many, one), to the right. At the bottom is inscribed the composition and denomination.


The Buffalo was available in a proof version from the first year and enjoyed huge sales of almost a quarter of a million. The mintage of the 2006 proof was set at 300,000 and actual sales were a large chunk of that. For 2007 the mintage was reduced to 200,000 but sales never broke 60,000 and haven’t managed to since.

In 2008 a trio of fractional sizes were made available and sold individually or as a four-coin set with the one-ounce coin. The design is identical for all versions with the exception of the inscription detailing the denomination and the weight below the buffalo image.


Minted to celebrate the 100-year milestone since the introduction of the Type I Buffalo (or Indian Head) nickel in 1913. Reversing the mirror-like background finish of the traditional proof coin and applying it instead to the design elements of the coin achieves a magnificent visual contrast against the uniquely frosted background.

This anniversary edition captures the beauty of coin design and the modernization of coin production over the last 100 years in one magnificent showpiece. Sales finished on 5 September 2013 with the total minted being 47,836.


While not as important an indicator of the gold market as the American Gold Eagle 22kt bullion coin, the yearly mintage of the Buffalo is of interest regardless. Unchanged since its debut in 2006, mintages remain relatively immune from the whims of the collector market and the coin remains a useful alternative to the AGE in countries where tax laws are unfavourable to the 0.9167 fineness of the Eagle.

Compared to the AGE, sales have remained relatively steady around the 200,000 ounces mark, with none of the startling blips that can make sales rise or fall precipitously.

In 2008 when the unciculated versions were available, sales were 17,249 for the 1/10oz, 9,949 for the 1/4oz, 16,908 for the 1/2oz and 9,074 for the 1oz. This finish was never offered again. Those numbers include coins sold individually packaged and those in the four-coin set.

Likewise in 2008, proof versions of the fractional sizes appeared on the market, and like the uncirculated version, were never offered again, although the one-ounce version remains a staple part of the range. Sales were 28,884 for the 1/10oz, 13,125 for the 1/4oz, and 11,169 for the 1/2oz. Again, the numbers include coins sold individually packaged and those in the four-coin set.



WEIGHT 31.103 grams 15.55 grams 7.776 grams 3.11 grams
SIZE 32.7 mm 26.0 mm 21.5 mm 16.0 mm
THICKNESS 2.95 mm 2.33 mm 1.71 mm 1.23 mm