The United States Mint is accepting orders for the collector 2011 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin for $1,760.00. Sales started on May 19 at noon Eastern Time.
These one ounce, .9999 fine 24-karat gold coins are the sixth issue in the series that started in 2006. They feature the same basic design by James Earle Fraser as the 1913 circulating nickel known by most as either the "Indian Head Nickel" or the "Buffalo Nickel." The obverse has a portrait of a Native American, and the reverse depicts an American buffalo. An excerpt from a page on the United States Mint’s website reveals the models for the coin’s design:
"The Native American depiction on the coins obverse is believed to be based on three different American Indians. Two of the American Indians who modeled for Fraser as he sculpted the coin were named by the designer before his death. They were Chief Iron Tail of the Lakota Sioux and Chief Two Moons of the Cheyenne.
Although many have claimed to have had a sitting with Fraser for this design, he could not recall the name of the third person, and satisfactory documentation has not yet been found to identify that individual. It is widely believed that the bison on the coin’s reverse was modeled after Black Diamond, a popular attraction at the New York Zoological Gardens."
The coins are popular for many collectors. A few days before the United States Mint released the 2011 American Buffalo Gold, it stopped selling the 2010-dated proof version which launched on June 3. The latest sales figures indicate 49,374 had sold as of Sunday, May 15.
The gold piece should not be confused with the sister or companion investment-grade 2011 Buffalo Gold bullion coin which has been on the market since March 14, 2011. The Mint sells these coins through its network of Authorized Purchasers, who in turn resell them to coin dealers, precious metal providers and/or directly to the public. The United States Mint offers its collector proof coins directly to the public.
There are several other differences between the bullion coins produced for investors and the proof coins minted for collectors. Among the most noticeable is the coin’s finish. Proofs are carefully produced with dies that have been polished to a mirror finish and frosted design, and the "W" mint mark appears on the obverse to the left of the neck of the Chief. Bullion coins do not carry mint marks nor have the mirror-like finish.
Price may be a concern for certain buyers, especially since gold has hit record highs during 2011. In fact, this year’s Buffalo is starting with a record high initial price. On top of that, its price is subject to change each Wednesday since the Mint bases its numismatic gold coin prices on the London Fix weekly average price of gold. The current price is based on a gold range of between $1,450.00 and $1,499.99 an ounce. If the average market value of the precious metal moves outside of this range, the United States Mint will adjust the coin price by $50.
Below is a comparison of initial prices for the American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin since its inception.
Buffalo Gold Proof Coin Launch Prices
Some buyers might notice a price difference between the American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin and the American Eagle Gold Proof Coin, which is currently listed for $1,735.00. The major distinction between the two gold coins other than their design is their yellow metal’s purity. American Gold Eagles are struck from 22 karat gold versus the 24 karat gold in the Buffalos.
The 2011 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin can be ordered from the United States Mint Web site product page, located here. Orders may also be placed at the toll-free number 1-800- USA-MINT (872-6468). No order or household limits are in place. A shipping and handling fee of $4.95 per order will be added to all domestic orders.