American Gold Buffalo Coins

gold coin icon USA flag icon American Buffalo Coins - the US Mint's highest purity gold coins

The American Gold Buffalo coins stand out among all the gold coins that the US Mint issues for their level of purity. They are minted out of 99.99% pure gold (24 karat) just like the majority of gold bullion coins that are issued worldwide by the leading government mints. Until the US Mint started issueing the new coins in 2006, the market for 24 karat gold coins had been dominated by foreign-minted gold coins like the Canadian Gold Maple Leafs.

Not all investors that buy gold in the form of American Buffalo coins are aware of the fact that the design of the coins has historic origins. Both the head of an American Indian on the obverse and the image of an American bison on the reverse first appeared on the Indian Head nickel (a.k.a. Buffalo nickel). The weight, metal content and purity of the coins is guaranteed by the American government. American consumers that are investing in gold for their retirements can include the coins in their 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 Buffaloes 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 American Gold Buffalo coin was only offered in 2013. All special versions of the American Buffalo gold coin bear the W mint mark on the obverse side. Brilliant uncirculated coins are not mintmarked however.

obverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Buffalo coins
reverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Gold Buffalo coins

Coin Specifications

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.

Gold Buffalo Coin Design

The design of the Gold Buffalo coins 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 Buffaloes 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 Buffalo gold coins are minted (not only the proof coins).

The reverse side of the Gold American Buffalos 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".

History of the Gold Buffaloes

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 Gold Buffalo coin in June 2006. Only in 2008, the US Mint also produced American Gold Buffalo coins 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.

Mintage Numbers

Production numbers of the American Buffalo coins 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.

reverse side of an American Silver Buffalo Round

American Silver Buffalo Rounds

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.

American Buffalo Gold Coin Sets / Special Issues

obverse side of the 2013 issue of the reverse proof 1 oz Gold Buffalo
reverse side of the 2013 issue of the reverse proof 1 oz American Gold Buffalo coin

2013 reverse proof 1 oz Buffalo coins

Purity: 99.99% (24 karat gold)

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 Buffalo gold coin (with the W mint mark) has a frosted background and mirrorlike design. These coins 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).

2008 2-Coin American Buffalo Double Prosperity Set

2008 Double Prosperity Set

total gold weight: 1 oz

The Double Prosperity Set contains the burnished versions of the 1/2 oz American Gold Eagle coins 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.

2008 4-Coin American Gold Buffalo Set

4 coin Gold Buffalo Set 2008

total gold weight: 1.85 oz

The set is made up of 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.

2008 Gold Buffalo Celebration Coin

2008 Gold Buffalo Celebration Coin

total gold weight: 1 oz

The Gold Buffalo Celebration Coin is identical to a regular 1 oz 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.

2006-2016 11-coin American Gold Buffalo Set

2006-2016 11-coin 1 oz Gold Buffalo Set

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 Buffaloes (therefore no mint mark), only the packaging is different. The set is presented in a Dansco album for convenient shelving.