The American Buffalo gold coin, commonly known as the gold buffalo, is the first 24-karat gold bullion coin by the United States Mint as authorized by the Public Law 109-145 on December 2005 under the Presidential $1 Coin Act. The next year, on June 22, 2006, the American buffalos were launched.
Back then, the only close to pure American gold bullion coin was the Gold American Eagles with a 0.9167 gold content. Only foreign coins like the South African Kruggerand were 24-k gold bullion coins.
The .9999 gold buffalo coin is legal tender and has a face value of US$50. In 2006, the introductory price of the American Buffalo gold proof coins was US$800. The price has risen tremendously each year due to increase in collector demand by the American buffalos coupled with the scarcity of the gold resources in the US.
The American buffalo coins derive its moniker from the American bison (buffalo) design made by James Earle Fraser on its reverse (tails side). Fraser was a student of renowned sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens whose standing Liberty design graces the American Double Eagle, America’s most famous rare coin.
The model for the buffalo design is said to be Black Diamond, the resident bison of New York Central Park Zoo in the 1910s.
The reverse also contains the face value and the inscription "1 OZ. .9999 FINE GOLD”, “E Pluribus Unum”, and the national motto "In God We Trust".
The American Buffalo gold coin is considered one of the most beautiful coins in the United States. The Buffalo coin design was reproduced in 2001 for the commemorative coin honoring the Smithsonian Institution.
The obverse (heads) shows the modified Native American effigy of the 1913 Indian Head Nickel wherein Fraser combined the features of three American Indian tribe chieftains.
From 2006 to 2007, these James Earle Fraser coins were only available in 1 oz gold bullion coins and its proof versions.
In 2008, the US Mint issued three new denominations: the 1/2 oz ($25 face value), 1/4 oz ($10 face value), and the 1/10 ($5) face value gold coins.
The West Point branch of the US Mint produces both the regular bullion coin issues and the proofs of the American Buffalo gold coin. However, only the proof coins are struck with the "W" mintmark on the reverse.
The American Buffalo gold bullion coins make ideal gold coin investment because of their authentic purity and high gold content.
The buffalo gold coins are not only appealing for their precious metal content but also for their monetary value that serves as an economic hedge in times of crises.