The American Buffalo Gold coin, also known as the Gold Buffalo coin, is a 24-karat limited-edition coin. It is one of the most sought-after products that the U.S. Mint produces.  Originally based on the popular Type 1 Buffalo Nickel, the American Buffalo Gold coin was reintroduced as the Mint’s first-ever 24-karat gold coin.
Unlike previous gold coins issued by the U.S. Mint, the Gold American Buffalo coin is the country’s first large-scale circulation of a 0.9999 fine gold coin. Previous gold coinage has traditionally been 22-karat or 0.9167 fine. The Gold American Buffalo comes in two different varieties: bullion coins and proof coins.
The coin’s purity and metal content is backed by the U.S. government. Although you can use this gold coin as legal tender, doing so would be at a disadvantage because its actual value may be higher than its face value due to high demand. It’s often better to use the Gold Buffalos as collectibles, though you’ll be subject to capital gains tax unless you hold them in an IRA.
First offered for sale by the U.S. Mint in June 2006, the American Buffalo Gold coin was a part of the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005. As a result of the act, the coin has limited mintage.
This act called for the minting of new coins, including four dollar coins issued each year featuring different presidents in the order in which they served. The $50 Gold American Buffalo bullion coins would also be printed using the design from the 1913 Buffalo Nickel.
The coin was created to compete with foreign gold bullion coins, particularly the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf. The U.S. government hoped to increase gold and 24-karat sales, which at the time made up approximately 60% of the world’s gold market .
In 2008, the Mint announced that it would temporarily halt the sales of the coin because of increasing demand and depletion of inventory at the Mint. Due to the financial crisis at the time, investors started to hoard the coins because the price of gold remained steady . The Mint began printing the coins again in 2009, but they only offer a 1-ounce version .
All American Buffalo Gold bullion coins are minted at the West Point Mint facility, formerly known as the West Point Bullion Depository. However, they do not have a mint mark.  The U.S. Mint doesn’t offer Gold Buffalo coins for sale directly to the public. Instead, it distributes them through its network of official distributors deemed authorized purchasers.
However, the U.S. Mint does produce American Buffalo Gold proof coins, which are ideal for collectors. A proof refers to the special minting process where burnished coin blanks are manually fed into presses filled with specific dies. Each coin is then struck several times so that the highly detailed image appears to float on the surface. Unlike the circulated coins, the proof coins bear the mint mark.
With the proof, collectors receive an official Certificate of Authenticity. The U.S. Mint sells these directly at a fixed price.
Each American Buffalo coin contains exactly one troy ounce (31.103 grams) of pure gold. It has a diameter of 1.287 inches along with a thickness of 0.116 inch. This coin is roughly the same size as a U.S. half-dollar coin.
The U.S. government guarantees the weight, purity and content of the gold in the Buffalo coins that it mints. The U.S. Mint’s gold bullion coins are the only official investment-grade gold bullion coins that the U.S. government guarantees in this way. As a result, investment firms encourage people to use these 24-karat gold coins for their IRAs.
The U.S. Congress sets the rules and guidelines for the production of the American Buffalo coin, including the stipulation that all gold used in its production must come from newly mined sources within the country.
Like the 1-ounce American Gold Eagle coin, the face value of the Gold Buffalo coin is $50. The actual value of the Buffalo coin in gold depends on several factors, including:
- The year the coin was minted
- Any defects or rarities
- The condition of the coin
- The current price of gold
Thanks to its unique backing by the U.S. government, you can sell the American Buffalo Gold coin for cash at most precious metal and coin dealers across the globe. Although you can use it as legal tender for $50, its true value may be much higher because of the increase in the price of gold and the coin’s popularity.
The design of the American Buffalo Gold coin began in 1904 when President Theodore Roosevelt suggested redesigning American coinage to compete with those of ancient Greece and Rome. That brought forth the creation of the Buffalo Nickel, designed by American sculptor James Earle Fraser.
Fraser designed the Indian Head Nickel, also known as the Buffalo Nickel, which debuted in 1913. Fraser’s creation paid homage to the native heritage found in the western part of the United States.
The obverse side of the American Gold Buffalo coin has the head of a Native American, whom Fraser designed based on three different Native American chiefs: Big Tree, Iron Trail and Two Moons. All three tribe chiefs posed for Fraser to sketch, and he highlighted the feathers and braids in their hair as well as the weather-worn expression on their faces.
The reverse side of the Gold American Buffalo coin has the silhouette of an American bison standing in a profile. Fraser claimed to model the buffalo after the 1,500-pound American bison named Black Diamond, a popular early 20th-century attraction at the New York Zoological Gardens.
If owning a 24-karat gold coin is something you desire, consider the American Buffalo Gold coin. Since the U.S. government guarantees its purity, it has a high value that makes it a smart choice for your collection or investment portfolio.
1. Gold IRA Guide. ‘Top 5 Gold Coins for Investors,’ https://goldiraguide.org/top-5-gold-coins-for-investors/. Accessed September 18, 2020.
2. United States Mint. ‘United States Mint to Develop 24-Karat Gold Bullion Investment Coin Program,’ https://www.usmint.gov/news/press-releases/20050419-united-states-mint-to-develop-24-karat-gold-bullion-investment-coin-program. Accessed October 1, 2020.
3. USA TODAY. ‘Mint Suspends Sale of 24-Karat Gold Coins,’ https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/markets/2008-09-26-mint-gold-coins_N.htm. Accessed October 1, 2020.
4. United States Mint. ‘American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coin,’ https://www.usmint.gov/coins/coin-medal-programs/american-buffalo-coin-program/bullion. Accessed September 24, 2020.
5. US Coin News. ‘Coin History — The American Buffalo Gold Coin,’ https://uscoinnews.com/2020/06/11/coin-history-the-american-buffalo-gold-coin/. Accessed October 1, 2020.