Introduced in 2006, the American Buffalo is a pure 24 K investment coin issued by the US Mint. In addition to the American Eagle, it is the second investment coin published by the US Mint.
Since 1986, the United States of America has been represented in the investment market with the "American Eagle" investment coin. Like the "Krugerrand", and "English Sovereign", the "American Eagle" has a purity of 91.67% gold.
When the demand for pure gold investment coins rose, the US Mint decided to introduce the "American Buffalo". The fine gold content is 99.99% and is therefore one of the purest gold investment coins on the market. The American Buffalo gold coin, like the American Eagle, is legal tender in the United States.
Weight and Dimensions
In 2006, the 1oz American Buffalo was minted with a fine weight of 31.10 g and a fineness of 999.9/1000. In 2008 the US Mint introduced 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz fractional sizes.
Fine Weight Fineness Diameter Thickness Weight Denomination Year
1 oz 999.9/1000 32.70 mm 2.95 mm 31.10 g 50 US-$ 2006
1/2 oz 999.9/1000 26.50 mm 2.16 mm 15.55 g 25 US-$ 2008
1/4 oz 999.9/1000 22.00 mm 1.63 mm 7.78 g 10 US-$ 2008
1/10 oz 999.9/1000 16.50 mm 1.20 mm 3.11 g 5 US-$ 2008
The American Buffalo gold coin is minted in "Bullion" and "Proof" embossing qualities with a standard weight of 1 oz. The coin image is the same for both coins. The embossing "Proof" quality is the collector version.
The "Proof" (also referred to as PP "Polished Plate") is marked with a "W" for West Point. For the embossing, polished blanks and stamps are used. The collector's edition is limited to 300,000 copies. Due to the limited edition, these editions have higher premiums.
Gold Investment Coins with 24 karat - 999.9 fine
Nugget (Australia - Royal Perth Mint)
Kangaroo (Australia - Royal Perth Mint)
Lunar (Australia - Royal Perth Mint)
Koala (Australia - Royal Perth Mint)
Britannia from 2013 (United Kingdom - Royal Mint)
Maple Leaf (Canada - Royal Canadian Mint)
Goldeuro - (Germany - German Federal Ministry of Finance)
Panda (China - China Mint)
The Vienna Philharmonic (Austria - Münze Österreich AG)
Appearance of American Buffalo and Design
The designs on the front and back were created by sculptor James Earle Fraser (1876-1953). The design was first used for the "Buffalo Nickel" or "Indian Head Nickel" - which was a 5 cent gold coin minted from 1913 to 1938.
It is regarded by many as one of the most successful coin designs in US history. The design was inspired by combining the facial features of three Chiefs from different Native American tribes which included: Kiowa Big Tree, the Iron Tail Chief of the Lakota and the Cheyenne Chief Two Moons.
The buffalo features two truly American motifs: a portrait of a Native American chief on the back, and the American bison, also called Buffalo, on the front. According to the US Mint, the Bison is said to have been a picture of "Black Diamond" - a popular attraction of the New York "Central Park Zoo". The animal was considered gentle despite its sheer size - which eventually led James Earle Fraser to use it as a model for the coin.
On the front the American buffalo is shown in large format from left to right. Above the Buffalo are the words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". On the right, the US coat of arms motto "E PLURIBUS UNUM", which means "Out of many, one," is embossed.
Below the Buffalo, the nominal value of $50 and 1 oz 9999 FINE GOLD are imprinted. The words "IN GOD WE TRUST", which has appeared on all US gold coins since 1908, is stamped on the lower left side below the Buffalo head.
The motif side of the coin shows the portrait of a Native American chief. The word "LIBERTY" appears on the upper right. The letter F", which stands for the designer James Earle Fraser, and the year of issue are stamped on the lower left side.
The portrait is an interpretation of three chiefs from different Native American tribes. Sculptor Fraser was able to draw sketches of the three chiefs; Big Tree from the Kiowa, Iron Tail from the Lakota Sioux tribe and Two Moons from the Cheyenne tribe.
The American Buffalo is the first 999.9 fine investment gold coin of the USA. Due to the high demand for pure gold investment coins the US Mint introduced the Buffalo in 2006. The Royal Mint responded with its own pure gold coin in 2013 when it raised the gold content of the "Britannia" from 22 karat to 24 karat.
An important difference between the "American Buffalo" and the "American Eagle" is the higher gold content. While the American Eagle is embossed in classic 22 karat gold (fineness: 916.7 / 1000), the "American Buffalo" is a 24 karat gold coin (fineness: 9999/1000).
A special feature of this coin is that the gold used for the coinage of the Buffalo has to be sourced in the USA. The Buffalo gold is marked exclusively by the US Mint in West Point. The mint mark "W" is only visible in the proof editions.
United States Mint (US Mint)
The manufacturer of the American Buffalo is the United States Mint, which is an official federal authority of the United States of America and under the Treasury. The US Mint is responsible for the production of the dollar, and is headquarters in Washington DC.
In total, it has five branches:
Branch Mint Mark
West Point W ( for “Proof”-Coins)
San Francisco S
American Gold Coins American Eagle
First introduced in 1986, American Eagle gold coins are among the most successful and best-selling investment coins in the world. Due to the 22 K alloy they have a very nice colour and good scratch resistance. The rise of the American Eagle started with the import ban on Krugerrand gold coins, which was agreed jointly by the USA and the European Community. The import ban on the Krugerrand created an opportunity for the US and other countries to issue investment gold coins. Thus, in 1986, the first edition of the American Eagle was issued by the United States Mint. A year later in 1987, the Britannia from the United Kingdom was introduced, which was the first purely European investment coin to come onto the market.
Until the year 2016, Buffalo Gold coins were single-welded by the US Mint. In 2016 the packaging was changed by the US Mint to coin tubes. Delivery of the 2017 Buffalo now takes place in coin tubes of 20 gold coins. Individual coins are offered in coin bags or coin capsules.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Pros American Buffalo
High quality brand name
Value in most cases equals the gold price
Gold coins can be stored in small spaces
Easy to buy and sell worldwide
Good transportability in small quantities
Cons American Buffalo
Fine weight of 999.9/1000 is very scratch-sensitive
This high fineness of 999.9/1000 has the effect of poor scratch resistance, since gold is known to be very soft. For this reason, the first gold circulation coins, like the Sovereign, were minted in a gold copper alloy.
Today the most popular 22 K gold coins are the Krugerrand, American Eagle and British Sovereign. The 22 K alloy, with a proportion of copper or silver, give the coin better scratch resistance.