American Gold Buffalo
The United States Mint has a long and storied history dating all the way back to 1795. The U.S. minted gold coins from 1795 to 1933 and then again starting in 1986 with the American Gold Eagle coin. During that time not a single coin was ever minted in 24 karats. In 2005 under public law 109-145 dated December 22, 2005 the American Gold Buffalo was authorized.
The intention of the 24 karat design was to compete with other country’s versions of the 24 karat gold bullion coin. Austria, Australia, China and Canada all have 24 karat version just to name a few. The coins were first issued in June of 2006 and have been minted every year since. Though the totals may be low they are still regularly available in the secondary market.
Design and Specifications
The obverse or front of the coin, whose design was inspired by James Earle Fraser’s Buffalo Nickel (1913-1938), features an image of a Native American that was derived from the use of three different models. The front also contains the date as well as the word “LIBERTY” is inscribed on it.
The reverse of the coin features the image of a buffalo, or American bison, standing upon a hill which was modeled after a Central Park buffalo named Black Diamond. The back also displays the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” the face value of $50, “1oz .9999 FINE GOLD,” “E PLURIBUS UMUM” and the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.” American bullion coins do not carry a mint mark.
In 2006 and 2007 proof versions of the gold buffalo were issued for collectors. These coins were minted in a painstaking process that creates a cameo finish in which the raised portions of the design appear frosted while the low points of the coin are done in a mirror like finish. In 2008 the mint began to offer the proof buffalo in fractional sizes (1/2 oz, ¼ oz and 1/10 oz) but discontinued them for 2009 to present, only the 1 oz. version is produced today. All proof versions carry the “W” mint mark for the West Point Mint where they are produced.