The US Mint currently produces brilliant uncirculated and proof American Gold Buffaloes only in the 1 oz denomination. American Gold Buffaloes consist of 99.99% gold and are the only gold coin that the US Mint ever produced with this purity. The coins are meant to compete with foreign minted gold coins of the same purity. Approximately 60% of the world's gold sales come from the sale of 24 karat (99.99% purity) gold. In 2008, the US Mint also produced fractional American Gold Buffalo coins in the denominations of 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz.
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".
|Weight||Face Value||Diameter x Thickness|
|1 oz||US $ 50||32.7 x 2.95 mm|
|1/2 oz||US $ 25||27 x 2.24 mm|
|1/4 oz||US $ 10||22 x 1.83 mm|
|1/10 oz||US $ 5||16.5 x 1.19 mm|
The 3 smallest denominations were only produced in 2008.
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 US 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.