American Gold Buffaloes stand out among all the gold coins that the US Mint issues for their 99.99% purity. No other gold coins were ever produced by the US Mint with that level of purity. American Gold Eagles for example are minted out of 91.67% pure gold, which makes them more durable and scratch resistant.
However, it is estimated that approximately 60% of the world's gold sales come from the sale of 24 karat (99.99% purity) gold. Foreign-minted gold coins like the Canadian Maple Leafs already competed in that market for many years before American Gold Buffalo coins were first issued in 2006. The weight, metal content and purity of the coins is guaranteed by the American government and the coins can be included in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's).
Only one denomination of 1 oz is currently offered annually. The legal tender coins are issued with brilliant uncirculated and proof finishes. Fractional Gold Buffalo coins in the denominations of 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz were only issued in 2008, also as burnished coins. A special reverse proof version of the 1 oz Gold Buffaloes was only offered in 2013. All special American Gold Buffalo coin versions bear the W mintmark on the obverse side. Brilliant uncirculated coins are not mintmarked however.
|Weight||Face Value||Purity||Diameter x Thickness|
|1 oz||US $ 50||99.99%||32.7 x 2.95 mm|
|1/2 oz*||US $ 25||99.99%||27 x 2.24 mm|
|1/4 oz*||US $ 10||99.99%||22 x 1.83 mm|
|1/10 oz*||US $ 5||99.99%||16.50 x 1.19 mm|
* The 3 smallest denominations were only produced in 2008.
The design of the American Gold Buffaloes is a modified version of the design of the Indian Head nickel (a.k.a. Buffalo nickel) that the US Mint struck from 1913 to 1938. The obverse side of the American Gold Buffalo shows the head of a Native American in profile. The creator of the design, the sculptor James Earle Fraser, stated in 1938 that his design was an amalgamation of the three Native Americans: "Iron Tail, a Sioux, Big Tree, a Kiowa, and Two Moons, a Cheyenne". The motto "LIBERTY" and the year of mintage with the letter F for Fraser underneath also appear on the obverse side. Only coins minted in proof condition additionally display the mint mark "W" on the obverse side, a mark for the West Point Mint where all American Gold Buffaloes are minted (not only the proof coins).
The reverse side of the American Gold Buffaloes shows an American Bison (commonly called a buffalo) atop a mound of dirt. Fraser is believed to have used a bison named "Black Diamond" that lived in the New York Zoo during the 1910's as a model for this design. The reverse also has the following inscriptions: "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA", "E PLURIBUS UNUM", "IN GOD WE TRUST" and "$50 1 OZ. .9999 FINE GOLD".
In 2005, the Presidential $1 Coin Act was passed which stipulated the commencement of the striking and issuing of: "A $50 gold coin that is of an appropriate size and thickness, as determined by the Secretary, weighs 1 ounce, and contains 99.99 percent pure gold." The bill further stipulated that the weight and nominal denomination of the coin shall be inscribed and that the coin shall be legal tender. The United States Mint started selling the newly created 1 oz American Gold Buffalo coin in June 2006. Only in 2008, the US Mint also produced American Gold Buffaloes in the denominations of 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz (brilliant uncirculated, proof or with a burnished uncirculated finish). The fractional burnished and proof coins bear the "W" mint mark.
Production numbers of American Gold Buffaloes range from around 100.000 (2012) to 337.012 (2006). Proof coins made up a large part of the total coin production in 2006. In subsequent years, proof coins made up a much smaller share of the total production. The lowest proof mintages were 12.169 half ounce coins and 13.125 quarter ounce coins in 2008.
The American Silver Buffalo Rounds are NOT produced by the US Mint. Produced by various private mints, they don't have an official face value. The 1 oz rounds out of 99.9% fine silver are cheaper than comparable silver coins with lower premiums over the spot price of the metal.
|Weight||Face Value||Diameter x Thickness|
|1 oz||US $ 50||32.7 x 2.95 mm|
final mintage: 47,836 coins
The reverse proof American Gold Buffalo coins (with the W mint mark) have a frosted background and mirrorlike design. They were issued in 2013 in order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Fraser’s original design (that had first appeared on the Buffalo nickel in 1913).
total gold weight: 1 oz
The Double Prosperity Set contains the burnished versions of the 1/2 oz American Gold Eagle and 1/2 oz American Gold Buffalo coin. Both coins bear the W mint mark for the West Point branch of the US Mint. The set commemorates the auspicious date of August 8th 2008 (8-8-08). Only 7,751 such sets were issued.
total gold weight: 1.85 oz
The set is made up of American Gold Buffalo coins in all four denominations (1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz). 2008 was the only year that fractional coins were minted. The 4 coin set was issued separately for brilliant uncirculated (mintage: 6,049 sets) and proof coins (7,803 sets). The coins bear the W mint mark.
total gold weight: 1 oz
The Gold Buffalo Celebration Coin is identical to a regular Gold Buffalo coin, only the packaging is different. The US Mint issued these gift boxes in 2008 around the Lunar New Year to specifically target Asian-American buyers since the number 8 is considered lucky in many Asian cultures. In total, 24,558 such units were sold.
total gold weight: 11 oz
This set contains 11 brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Gold Buffalo coins from every year of mintage between 2006 and 2016. The coins are identical to 'regular' brilliant uncirculated Gold Buffalo coins (therefore no mint mark), only the packaging is different. The set is presented in a Dansco album for convenient shelving.