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Silver American Buffalo

The American Buffalo Silver coin is a commemorative silver dollar coin issued by the U.S. Mint in 2001 to recognize the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) of the Smithsonian Institution.

With a design replicating the original Buffalo Nickel, the American Buffalo Silver dollar coin quickly became a favorite of collectors, selling out within weeks of its distribution. Due to how quickly it sold out, the coin is one of the more popular modern commemorative coins.

The American Buffalo Silver coin is regulated by the U.S. Mint because it is considered legal tender. However, this coin is not minted for general circulation. The coin's real value is mainly due to the value of silver.

There are also silver rounds of the American Buffalo Silver coin, which remain popular among collectors as they are an optimal choice for obtaining more silver for your ounce when compared to other investment options. The design of the rounds is based entirely on the original coin issued by the U.S. Mint but carries no value.


In 1992, Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell sought to reintroduce the Buffalo Nickel. He envisioned a silver edition of the nickel only available to collectors, with the proceeds benefiting the country's national parks. When the legislation stalled, the nickel provision was revised to form a silver dollar. The law passed in 2000, but the sales were to benefit a different affiliation.

As a result, the American Buffalo Silver coin was issued to commemorate the opening of the NMAI. It was available from the U.S. Mint beginning on June 7, 2001, until it sold out just two weeks later on June 21. According to Public Law 106-375, a maximum number of 500,000 American Buffalo dollar coins were struck.

The coins were offered individually, as a two-coin set or included with the American Buffalo Coin and Currency Set. This coin and currency set was limited to 50,000 sets and had a replica of a Series 1899 $5 Silver Certificate along with two postage stamps.

Congress creates commemorative coin programs to honor a person, place or event. Surcharges from the sale of these coins supplement organizations and projects that benefit the public.

A surcharge of $10 was added to the price of each Silver Buffalo coin to fund the opening of the NMAI as well as pay for supplemental, educational and outreach programs offered by the museum.

Due to the coin's popularity, the National Museum of the American Indian asked the mint to produce an extra 250,000 or 500,000 coins, but the U.S. Treasury Secretary denied this request.

Coin Production

Unlike the American Buffalo Gold coin that is produced at only the West Point Mint in New York, the silver coin was struck at two locations. The Denver Mint produced 227,131 uncirculated coins, while the Philadelphia Mint produced 272,869 proof coins. The Denver-produced coins have the letter 'D' mint mark, while the Philadelphia-produced coins have the letter 'P' mint mark.

Private mints produce American Buffalo Silver rounds, including the 2015 Buffalo Silver dollar.

Metal Content

The American Buffalo Silver coin contains 90% silver, or 0.77 ounce of silver, and 10% copper.

The silver American Buffalo round contains a troy ounce. This means the Buffalo Silver coin has 1 ounce of silver and is made of .999 fine silver.


The uncirculated American Buffalo Silver coins were sold at a pre-issue price of $30 and a regular price of $32. The proof coins had a pre-issue price of $33 and a regular price of $37.

The actual Silver Buffalo coin value depends primarily on the market price of silver. Since silver is cheaper than gold, you can purchase more silver coins at a time and build up your collection faster. You can easily purchase more silver at the price you would pay for a 1-ounce gold coin, such as the Gold American Buffalo coin.

Many collectors prefer to build up a varied portfolio, and 1-ounce Silver Buffalo round coins are a solid choice to do so. If you're interested in purchasing rounds for investment purposes, silver is a valuable metal, and you can sell the Buffalo Silver coin and its 1-ounce rounds for cash when its value increases.


The design for the American Buffalo Silver coin is based on the 1913 Buffalo Nickel coin created by James Earle Fraser. Fraser brought to life his experience growing up on the Great Plains of the Dakotas and Minnesota. During his childhood, he traveled with his father extensively throughout the region in the late 19th century, often interacting with Native American tribes and encountering bison.

His 5-cent piece, also known as the Indian Head Nickel, served as the country's nickel from 1913 through 1938.

The obverse of the new Buffalo Silver coin features the right-profile portrait of an American Indian head that Fraser based on three chiefs: Two Moons of the Cheyenne, Big Tree of the Kiowa and Iron Tail of the Sioux. In the upper right is the word 'LIBERTY' along with the letter 'F' for Fraser.

The reverse of the Indian Head Silver coin has the left profile of an American bison standing on a mound of dirt. The original bison design was based on the bison named Black Diamond, who was a resident of New York's Central Park Zoo in the early 20th century.

Engravings on the reverse side are similar to the Buffalo Nickel with 'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA' and 'IN GOD WE TRUST' above the bison. Near the bison's head are the words 'E PLURIBUS UNUM,' and underneath the bison are the words 'ONE DOLLAR' and the letter abbreviation where the coin was printed.

On the silver round coins, the obverse is the same, but the reverse side has the purity and weight inscribed. You will find 'ONE TROY OUNCE' above the bison, and underneath the animal are the words '999 FINE SILVER.'

Whether you're looking to increase your investment portfolio or are hoping to add a commemorative coin to your collection, the American Buffalo coin in silver is a quality option. Although it is no longer in production, the silver coin remains a popular option in the coin-collecting market.