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The Origins of the American Gold Buffalo

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Initially released in June 2006, the American Gold Buffalo was the first 24-karat gold coin issued by the U.S. Mint, and it serves as a notable piece of American history. With a classic design that pays homage to James Earle Fraser, the one-ounce American Gold Buffalo boasts a face value of $50. While it only has a face value of $50, it trades at the prevailing spot price of gold per ounce. Though the American Gold Buffalo is a relatively new coin, it has been one of the most popular items on the coin market since its initial release, especially for those investors that prefer 24k gold coins.

The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005

24 karat gold nickel coin

Public Law 109-145, or the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, was signed into law in December 2005 by President George W. Bush. According to the U.S. Mint, this law was aimed at revitalizing “the design of United States coins and returning circulating coinage to its position as an object of aesthetic beauty in its own right,” which spearheaded the production and release of four $1 Presidential coins per year, each featuring striking and dramatic reverse designs of the Statue of Liberty.

Title II of the Presidential $1 Coin Act announced the striking and issuing of $50 American Gold Buffalo bullion and proof coins, while documenting the guidelines for the design, production volume, legal tender status, and other details regarding these coins. The mintage limit for these 24-karat gold coins was set at 300,000. In part, the U.S. Mint began producing the American Gold Buffalo to compete with the popularity of foreign gold coins, like the South African Krugerrand. The American Gold Buffalo has been issued concurrently since 2006 and is available in standard bullion and proof finishes. With the exception of 2008, which saw the production of 1/10 ounce,1/4 ounce, and 1/2 ounce sizes, the American Gold Buffalo is only available as a one-ounce coin.

American Gold Buffalo Coin Design

The Buffalo Nickel was a copper five-cent piece that circulated from 1913 to 1938. It was designed by James Earle Fraser, who was a famous coin designer and sculptor. The American Gold Buffalo’s design is essentially a modified version of the Buffalo Nickel’s design. The coin’s obverse features a detailed depiction of the profile of a right-facing Native American man, inscribed with the word “LIBERTY” and the mintage year. It’s believed that the image of the Native American man is a composite of three Native American chiefs, including Iron Tail from the Lakota tribe, Two Moons from the Cheyenne tribes, and John Big Tree from the Seneca tribe. The reverse features a large buffalo, as well as a statement of the coin’s face value and gold content.

American Gold Buffalo As an Investment Coin

Up until 2006, the American Gold Eagle, which is a 22k gold coin, was the only U.S.-issued gold bullion coin produced for investment purposes. The American Gold Buffalo helped to fill a gap in the marketplace, as many gold coin and bullion investors prefer 24k gold coins and have historically shunned U.S. gold coins for 24k one-ounce foreign gold coins, such as the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf. In the early years of production, the U.S. Mint released the American Gold Buffalo in sheets of 20 coins. This was popular among investors, as it not only kept the coin well-protected but also served as a certificate of authenticity (COA) for the coin. Unfortunately, the plastic sheets weren’t meant for long-term preservation and tend to peel over time, which is why these coins are now issued and released in tubes of 20 coins, similar to the American gold eagle.

Sell Your Gold Coins for Cash

Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers is a locally-owned coin dealer who buys and sells gold coins and bullion, along with other items made of precious metals. With recognition from the PGCS and NGC as an authorized dealer and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, you can trust that we’re going to treat you honestly and fairly during every transaction. To schedule an appointment with our staff, fill out our online contact form today.

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Tony Davis
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation, and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at atlantagoldandcoin.com to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at sales@atlantagoldandcoin.com or at 404-236-9744

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