2013 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo, Sales Hit 12,630 in 30 Minutes

by Mike Unser on August 8, 2013 · 36 comments

Today, August 8, 2013 at noon Eastern Time, the United States Mint introduced its centennial edition 2013-W $50 American Buffalo Gold Reverse Proof Coin.

Reverse or Tails Side of 2013-W $50 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo

Though this photo does not do it justice, here is a close up of the reverse or tails side of a 2013-W $50 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo Coin. The photo was taken at the West Point Mint on June 4, 2013, the day full-scale production of the coins started.

Collectors are snapping them up in a flurry. In the first 30 minutes of sales, there were 2,341 orders placed online at www.usmint.gov/catalog and another 300 orders taken at the U.S. Mint’s call center via 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). These 2,641 orders included a total of 12,630 coins. At $1,640 per, that totals to more than $20.7 million in sales in just 30 minutes.

Coin News Update: On Friday, August 9, 2013, the United States Mint added a "sales odometer" to the product page of the reverse proof. It showed "total units ordered" by 3 p.m. ET at 21,009. Since the coin’s release and as a result of rising gold, its price increased in $50 increments two times. Its last sale price was $1,740.00. On Friday, September 6, 213, the U.S. Mint offered the last odometer update with reverse proof Gold Buffalo final sales at 47,836. If any further update is provided, this coin news article will get updated.

As a comparison collectors will continue to monitor, sales kicked off for the traditional or regular annually issued proof Gold Buffalo on May 23, 2013. Its unit sales as of Sunday, August 4, 2013 are fewer at 12,297.

Obverse or Heads Side of 2013-W $50 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo

Obverse or heads side of 2013-W $50 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo. This is a photo of one of the early reverse proofs struck at the West Point Mint.

A reverse proof Gold Buffalo has never before been issued by the U.S. Mint, making it a key coin for collectors to own. There is one month to decide on buying one. Though the reverse proof has no mintage limit, it has a four-week sales window that ends on September 5, 2013, at 5 p.m. ET. After that date and time, no more will be sold.

Introduction of American Gold Buffalo and Designs

The unique reverse proof coin celebrates the 100th anniversary of the designs found on it. These designs were created by James Earle Fraser for strikes known as Indian Head or Buffalo nickels. They appeared on circulating five-cent coins from 1913 to 1938. Before their reuse on American Golf Buffalo coins, the designs were first revived in 2001 for the commemorative American Buffalo Silver Dollar.

24-karat American Buffalo Gold Coins have been minted annually in two versions since 2006 — a bullion version intended for investors and a regular proof version struck for coin collectors. They are the first 99.99% pure gold coins ever produced by the U.S. Mint. One-half ounce First Spouse Gold Coins joined the 24-karat family of gold coins in 2007. No others coins from the Mint feature the same fineness.

Designs of the bullion and regular proof Gold Buffalo and that of the new reverse proof are identical. Obverses feature a profile of a Native American believed to be a composite of three different American Indians. Fraser named two of the models, Chief Two Moons of the Cheyenne and Chief Iron Tail of the Lakota Sioux. He could not remember the third person. Reverses depict an American Bison or buffalo, likely modeled after Black Diamond of the Central Park Zoo.

West Point Mint Press Operator Justin Pagan Inspecting Gold Buffalo

Justin Pagan, West Point Mint press operator, producing reverse proof Gold Buffalo coins on June 4, the first day of full-scale production. These special edition coins are minted one at a time. A 24-karat coin blank is manually fed into the press using tongs, struck three times by the press and then pulled out with tongs as a finished coin. The last step for Justin, shown here, is visually inspecting it.

These gold coins are produced only at the U.S. Mint facility in West Point. The bullion coin does not but the regular proof and the reverse proof Gold Buffalo carry the "W" mint mark to denote their striking at the West Point Mint. Full-scale production of the 2013 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo began on June 4, 2013. Its features mirrored design elements against frosted background fields, which is opposite of the finish style seen on regular proofs.

Gold Buffalo Pricing

Pricing of the one-ounce 2013 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo opened at $1,640.00. The price is based on a London Fix average for gold that falls within $1,250.00 to $1,299.99 an ounce. If the average of the precious metal moves outside of that range, the U.S. Mint will adjust the Gold Buffalo’s price based on its coin pricing grid (see PDF).

2013 Reverse Proof American Gold Buffalo Coins

A few of the 2013-W $50 American Buffalo Gold Reverse Proof Coins struck on the production floor of the West Point Mint on June 4, 2013.

As an example, spot gold as of this writing is at $1,310.50 an ounce. If gold were to stay close to this level from today through next Wednesday, August 14, the price of the reverse proof would go up $50 to $1,690.00.

Where to Order

Orders for the regular proof or the special 2013-W $50 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo may be placed online through this U.S. Mint product page. Each of the coins is $1,640, but again, the price can change weekly.

Normally there is a charge of at least $4.95 for standard shipping. Domestic web orders will ship free thanks to a special U.S. Mint promotion that began last month and ends in September.

Orders are also accepted at 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

A&L Futures August 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Appreciate the update.

Louis August 8, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I am curious how you obtained the data on sales. Did you use order numbers or did the Mint provide the info?

RonnieBGood August 8, 2013 at 8:18 pm

This has been the best ordering experience that I have had in a long time. I was in and out by 12:08!!

Thank you US Mint!

Mike Unser August 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Louis, the sales data was provided by a Mint official. I was at the West Point Mint on the day full-scale production of the reverse proof kicked off. It’s a sharp looking coin, better than the photos show.

John August 8, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I won’t be getting mine graded.I was able to get my order in on line by 12:04.Listed as backordered 9/8/13.

Mark Rex August 8, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Order Date: 08/08/2013 at 12:03 AM
Backordered 09/08/13.

But right now on the coins page it says “Product will be available for shipping 08/23/2013″.

Suppose to be first come, first serve right?

Would really like to know the date of the first shipment, can you report on that?

Thanks, excitied!
/Mark

jim August 9, 2013 at 12:47 am

Who knows how the mint determines what orders get shipped first. Maybe Mike Unser can tour the shipping center and ask that question sometime and maybe pursue where there might be delays in the process.

RonnieBGood August 9, 2013 at 9:21 am

Hi Mike Unser,
Thank you for the article and the updates. It is great that you have access to the mint facility and staff.

A question that always comes up in our discussion is,
“If the Mint has been producing coins since June 4th why are the shipping dates 3 months out, i.e. September 8th?” Dates seem to be a moving target with the Mint. We (our local collecting group) are aware that production problems due occur, however, with all the past data would be possible for the Mint to produce an advance amount of coins adequate to fill orders placed on the first day? We would appreciate any feedback. I am still waiting for my 2013 American Silver Eagle 2 coin set (WP) that I ordered on the first day available.
Thank you, RBG

RonnieBGood August 9, 2013 at 9:26 am

We do realize the ship date of Sep 8th for the RP Buffalo is one month from Aug 8th but it is still a month wait, and dates are frequently pushed back. Thanks again.

jim August 9, 2013 at 10:42 am

Same thing happened with the S Mint two coin set last year. One month to order and order shipments didn’t start till a month afterwards. If I remember right they also had a running order count on the product page (missing this year). So two years in a row, one month order window and shipping starts one month after close of sales.
There must be a reason for the month delay; maybe the special packaging is at fault. Another reason for offering the product with and without special packaging.

Louis August 9, 2013 at 10:48 am

Thanks, Mike.
I am also curious what you think about the West Pt. set delays.
While I do not believe the Mint intentionally gives a preference to dealers, a lot
of small buyers are still waiting on their first day orders, yet
dealers have had all theirs shipped and graded. I think this
has been a public relations nightmare for the Mint.

jim August 9, 2013 at 10:54 am

Oops, forgot about the W mint two coin set this year. A third one month ordering window and another delay in shipping orders. At least the mint is consistent.

Boz August 9, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Looks like one of the first orders was somebody getting 2500 at one time. What do they know that we don’t, or was it Chad & Jeremy from the shopping channel?

Niles August 9, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Sounds like the “regular” 2013 proof is rarer. Most of the sales occur shortly after a coin is released, and it’s currently at 12,297. Lowest mintage for a 1 oz Buffalo proof is something like 18,500. Will 2013 be the series low?

Mark Rex August 9, 2013 at 7:01 pm

*21,009 on day 1 sold.
*Data for cumulative total units ordered is updated daily, Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays), at approximately 3 p.m. (ET) and is an approximation of total units ordered from the United States Mint through all of its active sales channels. This data is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed to represent accepted orders or actual sales figures.

Mike Irwin August 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm

I posed this question to a mint operator a year or so ago, “Some of the independent dealers I do business with advertise “First Strike” coins that are graded as MS 70, does the mint stack and store them in sequential time sorted bins or something?” She said, that there was no special order to the warehousing of the product and what customers receive is pretty much random. The shipping however is done according to the order of purchase, First come, First served. I was out by 12:04 would have been quicker if I would have signed in first.

jim August 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I’m not sure how much credence one can put in an operator’s statement. I doubt they get a whole lot of orientation other than the mechanics of filling out an order request. They’re pretty low on the information totem pole.

My bet is they fulfill orders last in first out (you pick those closest to the door, not climb over the closest ones to get to those at the back of the room against the wall) but since the mint doesn’t care and I don’t either it doesn’t really matter. I hope the mint continues not caring.

Mike Irwin August 10, 2013 at 9:26 am

You pretty much verified what she stated. I don’t know how many employees actually work at each mint, but I’m sure there is a mandated gage order about the workings of the mint or who the employees are or where they work, for security purposes. However you can’t tell me that during lunch time they don’t talk amongst themselves, to know the skinny.

SactoMike August 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

This coin is brilliant, but as an investment in the aftermarket it may leave much to be desired. 21,000+ in the early going already portends a larger mintage than originally thought, which will decrease appreciation moving forward. Secondly, those seeking “first strikes” or “early releases” may be sadly disappointed, even though they ordered the moment sales began. Regardless, for Buffalo gold collectors, this one is a must-have, it appears.

Mark Rex August 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I agree with SactoMike. As for the ‘FS/ER’ part; do you expect that those who did in fact order first will not get their order in time to meet this deadline and if so why?

In the case of the last 4 week special sales event for the 2013 West Point 2 Coin Silver Eagle Set – it was clear that the vast majority, maybe over 75%, of FS/ER went to coin dealers and or companies despite hoards of individual collectors who were refreshing the page constantly starting at 11:55 am until the item is able to be put into their cart who are still waiting on their order or recently got it and missing the FS/ER deadline. I got 1 of 2 that I ordered on day 1 so far.

I was very excited about this coin but by the first 30 minutes of sales was reaching what I expected to be the total mintage. I expected 15-20k. Although, higher than I would desire 20k isnt so bad but we got 27 days to go still.

Marks Guesstimate 27512, if I get that right, someone gots to buy me one! :)

SactoMike August 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Here is what happened to me: I ordered 2 sets of the 2013 Eagle Reverse Proof sets online via high-speed internet at exactly the nanosecond they were offered on May 9. Since I use a debit card, my VISA was instantly verified. I received a courtesy email from the Mint that day verifying my order. Then, in early July, I received a second email from the Mint telling me my delivery date would be July 21. That very week, I started seeing these sets for sale on Ebay – already graded by PCGS and NGC as early releases and first strikes. I received my coins On July 24 – five days outside the 30-day maximum period allowed by PCGS. When I called the Mint, they told me “several factors” go into how and when coins are mailed out. After 15 minutes of drill-down questioning, the representative basically admitted that larger coin orders would “most likely” get first preference on distribution, even though single-order sets came in at the same time. Ergo, the Mint had to push out distribution dates on most smaller orders. The second issue I have is the box the Mint uses: you wouldn’t know these were from the Mint at all. The return address is from Plainfield, Indiana – with no postmark. In fact, my wife opened the box thinking it was a wedding gift for our daughter who is soon to be married. Keep in mind PCGS won’t accept boxes that have been opened for their 30-day First Strike criteria. The Mint representative told me they began sending coins from “cloaked” distribution centers so as to avoid theft by “potentially unscrupulous” individuals (inferring postal workers). Problem is, are customers supposed to “guess” that a package is from the Mint, and arbitrarily send it to a grading service? There’s a simple remedy to this: send the coins registered. It may cost an extra $3, but people will pay it. The Mint rep scoffed at my suggestion. But if theft has been an issue, having someone sign for the package would be an easy remedy.

Anyway, I’m not that upset this time because the Reverse Proof 2013 Eagles have not generated much of an aftermarket, given the 281,000+ mintage. But consumers should be very aware moving forward that, basically, to get a first-strike or early-release eligible coin, it’s a crap shoot – unless you order a huge amount of coins which most people cannot afford.

jim August 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm

First Strike doesn’t mean anything and people who won’t buy a graded coin without that label are ignorant. Early Release means something by definition but it’s not clear to me why that meaning has any relevance. It doesn’t to me anyway and won’t ever until the mint itself does something to make such a label meaningful.

SactoMike August 12, 2013 at 9:00 am

Jim, while I am no fan of the FS/ER labels, graded coins do in fact command a premium in the aftermarket. Some people buy them for that reason, others do not. But studied coin collectors and investors know this has been the case for years. The labels may not mean anything to you, but for thousands of others, they do. Depends on what you want. If you have a higher level of interest in connection with investment-grade coins for sale in the aftermarket, the labels – for better or for worse mean something.

jim August 12, 2013 at 9:39 am

Yeah, I know. Whether it bears any resemblance to reality or not if there’s a rarity of something even if it’s the trumped up grader’s labels people will pay more for it. And yet interestingly some coins have a very real rarity and because nobody wants to buy them they languish pretty much at melt value.

SactoMike August 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm

You are so right.. I remember when the 1995 10th Anniversary gold set came out that included the proof W silver eagle.. the “buzz” (if you can call it that) back then was that the entire set was too expensive, but everyone missed the fact that slipped into the set was the W-mint proof-only Silver Eagle. Turned out, only 30,000 were minted which created a genuine rarity, especially in the 69 and inparticular 70 grades. I remember taking a pass on the set because of price, not even thinking about the silver eagle. Uggh!

jim August 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Back then I could only afford silver coins and sets – no money for gold. Don’t know where I would have gotten the money to buy the 10th Anniversary set. Of course buying a gold set today would cost 3 times what it did then – so, I still can’t afford a gold eagle set.

RonnieBGood August 13, 2013 at 11:37 am

With the larger orders shipping first from the Mint it is impossible for an individual collector to get a coin to a grader in time for an ER / FS designation.

Is Coin collecting a hobby or just big business? Have we all just become slaves to the Mints high mark-up’s (a luxury tax on the hobby) and the Big Business Coin Slabbing that squeeze out the small collectors and drive up prices? Great business for the ones that get the large orders to the grader. Not good for the collector that pays more in the aftermarket! Remember, if you are collecting for future profit (or to pass to your family as a legacy) you must subtract an additional 30% in selling costs at a minimum. A dealer has overhead and will not offer you retail price. EBay, PayPal, Shipping and Insurance all take a 30+ % cut from your sale.

When the TV coin shows tell you never to collect for profit they are really telling you that we are selling you these coins at such high mark-ups that you will never recoup your cost of your coins IF you need to sell them.

RonnieBGood August 13, 2013 at 11:50 am

SMike – Orders from the Mint over $300 are signature required.
And I would be very surprised if you can send this buffalo by registered mail for only $3 extra!

Joe#2 August 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Ronnie B Good, In my opinion, No need what-so-ever to get PROOF coins graded. You buy it from the Mints and the coin(s) are in there original packaging, And that’s it. Period. If you want to make the grading companies richer to get a PROOF graded, Go ahead. If you get back a “69”, you won’t be a happy camper.IMO, This is what destroyed the hobby or collection, And the grading companies are laughing all the way to the bank. I can understand getting a rare coin graded for authenticity, But a FULL PROOF COIN from a reputable reliable mint? HECK NO.!!!!!! FWIW…

art August 13, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Is this the first American Buffalo Gold Reverse Proof Coins ever made?

Joe#2 August 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Art, Yes it is. It’s to celebrate the buffalo nickles 100th Anniversary. The coin will be on sale on a 4 week window that started last Thursday.

jim August 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Joe#2 – I’ve never sent any of my coins in for grading so I’ve never felt the disappointment of getting a 69 instead of a 70 back. One thing that bothers me about the graders is apparently they don’t bother to tell you or point out specifically why they think your coin is a 69 rather than a 70. That and I’ve read that a coin can be graded differently between grading companies so who do you trust?

art – read the article.

Joe#2 August 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Jim, Good point. Why don’t they tell you what kept your coin or coins from getting that 70 grade You are paying quite a bit for the service. And good for you not to get proofs graded.

RonnieBGood August 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Joe #2 – You missed the point.
Time after time the Mint puts the collector last even when they try to mint to demand.

Joe#2 August 13, 2013 at 1:31 pm

R B G … I understand it’s all a money game. Like everything else in life.

SactoMike August 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Great points, all. Like baseball card collecting, coin collecting is both a hobby and big business. The similarities between the two are striking, right down to similar grading practices. Though the Mint is more credible because they at least tell you the mintage of a particular coin (something the baseball card companies do not). My reference to the $3 registered-receipt was what the guy at the post office told me on certain orders.

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