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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

180) American Gold Buffalo (or American Bison) One Ounce $50 Gold (Proof) coin minted by the US Mint in 2015:

180) American Gold Buffalo (or American Bison) One Ounce $50 Gold (Proof) coin minted by the US Mint  in 2015:

The minting of the 24 Karat American Buffalo Gold coins was authorised by Public Law 109-145, dated 22.12.2005 known as the Presidential $1 Coin Act 0f 2005 and they were first minted in 2006. Since then, the Gold American Buffalo coins have become very popular world-wide and are issued annually.

The Act required a Presidential Dollar Coin Series to begin in 2007, at the same time it mandated the production of a one-ounce 24 Karat gold bullion coin of the face value of $50. These coins were brought out in Proof and Bullion Quality.

This was the first time ever that the US Government minted a pure .9999, 24 Karat gold coin for the public. The American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coins are among the World’s purest gold coins in terms of the fineness of the metal they contain. Each coin contains its full, stated weight of pure gold. By law, the gold for the US Mint American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coins must be taken from newly mined sources in America. They are struck at the US Mint’s West Point, New York facility.

The American Buffalo Gold Bullion coins do not carry a mint mark, while the Proof coins carry a “W” mint mark for the West Point Mint.

 The US Mint Gold Bullion Coins are the only investment grade gold Bullion Coins whose weight, content and purity are guaranteed by the US Government.

The American Buffalo Gold Coin’s obverse and reverse designs are modified versions  of designs  by James Earle Fraser for America’s five-cent coin popularly known as the “Indian Head” or “Buffalo Nickel” (Buffalo – meaning the “American Bison”) which were struck in 1913 and which showcase the beauty of the American West. Generally Fraser’s Indian Head nickel design is regarded as among the best designs on any US coins.

1913-1938 Indian Head or American Buffalo 5 cent coin (also known as “nickel”):

The popular Indian Head or Buffalo five cent coin (nickel) was introduced in 1913.

Designed by James Earle Fraser, the Indian Head/Buffalo nickel showcases the native icons of the American West.

The Native American depiction on the nickel’s Obverseis believed to be based on three different American Indians. Two of them who modelled for Fraser were – Chief Iron Tail of the Lakota Sioux and Chief Two Moons of the Cheyenne. Although many persons including Two Guns White Calf, son of the last Blackfoot tribal Chief claimed to have a sitting with Fraser for this design, he could not recall the name of the third person. (It is quite possible, that all these persons who claimed to have had a sitting with him did in fact model for his design for small durations each, as his main purpose was to get a “typical Indian Head” and not to make a portrait, which could be the reason why he could not remember their individual names).

     The obverse of the Type I Indian Head Nickel minted in 1913
 On the other hand, the bison on the nickel’s Reverse was modelled after Black Diamond, which was caged at New York Zoological gardens.

Type I & Type II nickels:

In the first year of the coin’s minting (1913) there were two distinct varieties, the first showing the bison standing on a mound, while in the second variety, the base was redesigned to a thinner, straight line. Matte Proof coins were struck and made available to Collectors from 1913 to 1916. In all more than 1.2 billion Buffalo or Indian Head Nickels were struck between 1913 and 1938.

 The Type I nickel design showing an American Buffalo standing on a mound

 The Type II nickel design showing an American Buffalo standing on a thinner straight strip.
Buffalo Nickels are coveted as “good luck” pieces by some Numismatists while for others they are symbolic of the settlement of the American West.

The US Mint revived this popular design in 2006 by striking American Buffalo Gold Commemorative Coins.

Distinction between Proof and Bullion Quality American Buffalo Gold Coins:

The term “Proof” refers to a specialised minting process that starts with manually putting burnished coin blanks into presses fitted with special dies. Each coin is struck multiple times so the softly frosted, yet detailed images seem to float above a mirror-like field. Proof quality coins are distinguished by the presence of a mint mark, indicating their production facility and by the use of burnished coin blanks, which are manually fed into specially adapted coining presses one at a time. After scrutiny by white gloved specialists, the Proof American Buffalo Gold Coins are placed in a plastic capsule and mounted in an elegant satin-lined velvet presentation case.

The term “Bullion” traditionally stands for gold bars, silver bars, other precious metals bars or ingots. The word “bullion” comes from the French word “bouillon” (meaning “boiling”) and was a term used for a mint or a melting house, where metals were melted for giving them various other shapes, say, for example, coins in the case of a mint or a bar made of precious metals or bars plated with precious metals. Today Bullion refers to precious metals in bulk which are regularly traded on commodity markets.

Bullion coins are precious metal coins (mostly gold and silver) minted by authorised agencies primarily for investment purposes. Some old bullion coins which are still in popular demand are the Maria Theresa Thaler, Krugerrand and the British sovereigns.

In 2013, a special Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo coin was issued to commemorate 100 years of this design.

Gold American Buffalos:

In 2006, the US Mint started minting its first and only one oz. gold coin of .9999 fineness with the American Buffalo depicted on the Reverse.

Both the obverse and reverse designs of this historic American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coin contain images based on the original 1913 Type I Buffalo Nickel, designed by Fraser and have remained the same since commencement of the Programme in 2006.

The Native American portrait on the Obverse commemorates the legacy of America’s first inhabitants, while the Reverse design of the powerful American Buffalo symbolises the pioneering spirit of America’s Westward expansion and settling of the American West.

The Obverse of the Coin depicts a profile of a Native American facing right. This is a well-known Native American/Indian Head design created by possibly combining the images of three Native American Chiefs: Iron Tail (Lakota Sioux), Two Moons (Cheyenne) and John Big Tree (Kiowa) and some others to get a “typical Indian Head” design.

On the upper right periphery is mentioned “LIBERTY”. Behind the Native American’s portrait is the mint mark “W” of the issuing mint – West Point Mint, New York. The year of issue “2015” is mentioned towards the lower periphery. The initial “F” represents the designer of the Native American’s profile – James Earle Fraser.

The Reverse of the coin features a depiction of an American Buffalo (also known as a bison) atop a mound. This design was created after “Black Diamond”, the bison caged in New York City’s Central Park Zoo in the early 1900s. On the upper Periphery is mentioned the name of the issuing country “UNITED.STATES.OF.AMERICA”. Below the name of the country is the motto “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (meaning “One Out of Many”). Below the Buffalo’s head is mentioned the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST”. On the lower periphery is mentioned the denomination of the coin “$ 50” and the weight & metal/gold content of the coin “1 OZ. .9999 FINE GOLD”.

The specifications of this coin are:

Denomination: $50; Metal Composition: 99.99% Gold; Quality: 24 Karat Gold; Weight: 1.000 troy ounce; Diameter: 1.287 inches (32.70 mm); Thickness: 0.116 inch (2.95 mm); Edge: Reeded; Mint & Mint Mark: West Point, New York – “W”.

The Proof coin is presented in an elegant hardwood box with a matte finish and a faux leather inset and is accompanied by a Certificte of Authenticity.

US Mint Gold Bullion Coins are the only official investment-grade gold bullion coins whose weight, content and quality comes with a Government Guarantee.

The 2006 and 2007 American Buffalo Coins were struck in one-ounce pieces only, but from 2008 $5 (1/10th Ounce), $10 (1/4th Ounce), and $25 (1/2 Ounce) versions were also minted.

The American Eagle Gold bullion coins and the American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coins –  Differences & Similarities:

-      The American Gold Eagle Coin contains 22 Karat Gold (91.67% purity with copper – 5.33% and silver – 3% being added in conformity with what is known as the “English Standard” or “Crown Gold”** contained in coins like the British Sovereign and the South African Krugerrand), while the American Gold Buffalo coin contains 24 Karat gold.

-      The metal composition renders the American Gold Buffalo coin much softer and prone to getting scratched or marked more easily than the American Gold Eagle coins which are much harder and less prone to getting scratched or bearing marks. Thus the American Buffalo Coins need to be handled with much more care than the American Eagle Coins to maintain their pristine value.

-      The American Gold Eagle was designed after other popular Gold Coins originally meant for circulation like the British Sovereigns,South African Krugerrand etc., while the American Gold Buffalo was positioned to compete with Gold coins like the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf.

-      The American Gold Eagle Coin were first minted in 1986 (under the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985), while the American Gold Buffalo Coin was first minted in 2006 (under Public Law 109-145, Title 31, sub-title IV, chapter 51, Sub-chapter II, 512 of the US Code), two decades later. This Law gives the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to mint two fifty dollar gold coins – one containing 1 troy oz. of “fine gold” and the other containing “99.99 % pure gold).

-      Thus, while both “1 Oz.” versions of the American Eagle Gold coin and American Buffalo Gold Coin contain one Troy Oz. of gold respectively, the American Eagle Gold Coin contains an additional amount of copper – 5.33% and silver – 3%.

Post Script:** The 22–Karat gold alloy is an English standard traditionally referred to as Crown Gold (0.9167 fineness or 22 Karat gold). The 22 Karat English Standard was established for gold circulating coinage over 350 years ago. Crown gold alloys had not been used in US minted coins since 1834 and the gold content of US minted coins was scaled down to 0.9000 fineness. However, for American Buffalo Gold Coins, the gold fraction was again increased to the English Standard of 0.9167 since 1986. These coins contain their stated amount of pure gold (91.67%), which by law, should be taken from newly mined sources in the USA and the balance should consists of silver (3%) and copper (5.33%), added to increase the coin’s durability and to help prevent scratching and marring and to produce a more water-resistant coin. This creates harder coins which resist scratching and marring.


1) American Eagle Gold Coins

2) State Commemorative Quarters of the USA

3) The Great Seal of the USA  

4) Native American Themed Coins

5) America The Beautiful Quarters - 2010

6) America The Beautiful Quarters - 2011

7) America The Beautiful Quarters 2012

8) America The Beautiful Quarters - 2013

9) America The Beautiful Quarters - 2014

10) New US $100 Bill with additional security features

11) US Bicentennial Coins 

12) Forever stamps : 150th anniversary of the US Civil War 1861-1965

13) The Strange cae of me becoming a US citizen thanks to the US Mint 

14) Westward Journey Nickels

15) America The Beautiful Quarters - 2015  

16) Coins Commemorating 225 Years of the US Marshal Service

17) Susan B. Anthony Dollar 

18) America the Beautiful Quarters - 2016

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