From 1837 until 1986, the United States Mint had not struck a gold coin with a metal content greater than .900. Beginning in 1833, the US moved away from the so-called crown gold alloy content (22-karat gold) and struck its last gold coin with such purity by 1837. It wasn’t until the introduction of the American Gold Eagle in 1986 that the US broke that mold and struck a 22-karat gold coin again.
It would be another 20 years before the United States Mint struck its first-ever 24-karat gold coin. Though many other 24-karat gold products have since been introduced by the United States Mint, the American Gold Buffalo remains the first in mint history to feature such stunning gold content. Learn more about the history of the American Gold Buffalo, one of the many gold coins for sale through JM Bullion.
The United States Mint unveiled the American Gold Buffalo bullion coin in 2006, featuring the historic Buffalo Nickel design from James Earle Fraser and a gold content of .9999 fineness. The American Gold Buffalo was the first-ever coin from the US Mint to feature 24-karat gold, and in 2016 the mint celebrated the 10th anniversary of this highly coveted bullion coin.
James Earle Fraser was commissioned by the administration of William Howard Taft in 1911 to create a design to replace the Liberty Head design from Charles E. Barber on the US nickel. A resident of the American Midwest, born and raised in Winona, Minnesota, Fraser was accustomed to life on the American Plains. He used images from his youth as inspiration for the coin design that would eventually grace the Buffalo Nickel.
Black Diamond, a resident bison of New York City’s Central Park Zoo was the inspiration behind his buffalo design, which features on the reverse of both the Buffalo Nickel and the modern American Gold Buffalo.
For the obverse, he used the right-profile of an American Indian as the primary design. It did not represent one individual, but rather a compilation of the facial features taken from three real-life Native American leaders. The identity of those men was shrouded in mystery for years, but in 1938 he stated that the inspirational figures had been Iron Tail of the Sioux, Big Tree of the Kiowa, and Two Moons of the Cheyenne.
The Bullion and Collectible Coin Production Efficiency and Cost Saving Act became law in the US on December 4, 2015. In addition to provisions impacting the American Gold and American Silver Eagle coins, the law set forth provisions to establish the American Gold Buffalo as the permanent .9999 fine gold bullion coin of the United States, meaning its annual production is all-but guaranteed following its 10th anniversary.
Demand for American Gold Buffalo coins has remained relatively stable since its 2006 introduction. The long-awaited debut of an American bullion coin with .9999 pure gold led to a rush for the coins in 2006, with 337,012 coins sold. Most ears the average sales are around 200,000 in total, with a low point coming in 2012 at just 100,000 coins. Heading into the month of December 2015, sales for that year stood around 220,000 and 30,000 coins sold in the month of January 2016 as the 10th anniversary celebration arrived.
The 2013 American Gold Buffalo Proof coins featured a reverse proof striking in a special release to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Fraser’s original Buffalo Nickel design. Fraser grew up in Winona, Minnesota and used his life on the plains of the Upper Midwest as inspiration for the nickel’s coin design.
A reverse proof coin has the same features as a typical proof, with one notable exception. The application of those standard proof features is reversed, with the design sets bearing a deeply-mirrored, clear finish and the background field exhibiting a strong, frosted matte appearance.
Additionally, there was a unique striking of the American Gold Buffalo coins just three years into production in 2008. The American Gold Buffalo coin is typically struck each year in both bullion and proof, but for 2008 only there was a mintage of fractional-weight coins in this collection. In addition to the 2008-W ¼ oz Burnished American Gold Buffalo coin, the US Mint also prepared 1/10 oz and ½ oz coins for collectors.
Many of the 2008-W Burnished American Gold Buffalo Coins in the fractional release are considered unique Specimen Proof 70 coins. Considered perfect coins with full, original mint luster and no detracting flaws, specimen is a rarely issued grade referring to coins that are specially struck and uniquely handled, with a distinctive finish similar to proof coins but still unique compared to their collectible proof counterparts.
JM Bullion also carries a variety of American Gold Buffalo coins in certified condition from either the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). If you are looking to buy gold with great value, certified gold coins are an excellent option.
Certification from the NGC or the PCGS, the world’s preeminent authorities on coin certification, adds inherent value to the American Gold Buffalo coins you are considering for purchase. For those who are new to the precious metals industry, certified coinage often comes with terms that are unfamiliar.
Before the NGC and PCGS formed formal certification process, it was generally agreed upon that physical condition, or grade, of the coin was important to the value. However, there was not a universal system for grading or even a universal standard that could be applied. Prior to the 1980s, rare coin collectors had only three broad categories to place coins into based upon their condition. These included:
Today, the NGC and PCGS use the 1 to 70 Sheldon Scale to certify the condition of all coins it grades. Each grade starts with a strike type, which includes the following options:
Each of the different certification levels indicates a different level of wear and tear, or conversely perfection, to the coin’s surface, design features, and markings. The most common Certified Silver Coins you’ll find in the JM Bullion catalog include many of the following designations for both bullion and proof options:
If you have any questions about the American Gold Buffalo Series, please feel free to reach out to JM Bullion. Our customer service team can assist you on the phone at 800-276-6508, on the web using our live chat, and via our email address. We also encourage you to visit our Payment Methods FAQ page to find quick-and-easy answers to common questions regarding our acceptable payment methods and applicable purchasing minimums.