2012 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin Released

2012-W $50 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin
2012-W $50 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin

Today, March 15, 2012, the United States Mint started to accept orders for the 2012-W $50 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin at an opening price of $1,960.00.

Now in the seventh year in the series, the collectible is the purest U.S. Mint gold product with its composition of 24 karat, or 99.99%, fine gold minted to a weight of one ounce.

Every Buffalo gold coin features the profile of a Native American on the obverse and an American buffalo on the reverse, images that appeared on the 1913 Type I Buffalo nickel designed by James Earle Fraser.

Order Information for 2012 Proof Buffalo Coin

The 2012 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). There are no order or household limits are in place as demand generally dictates how many of the coins are produced.

Proof Starting Price Highest Ever

Launching the coin before spring is new for the United States Mint. Last year’s issue had seen the earliest release date, which occurred on May 19, followed by the 2007 issue which became available on May 23.

The $1,960.00 price may pressure this year’s sales debut much like it did in 2011. The 2012 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin is setting a new opening price high, topping the previous ceiling from 2011 by $200. Below is a comparison of launch dates and initial prices of the American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin since its inception.

2006-2012 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin Launch Prices

Year Initial Price
2012 (released March 15) $1,960.00
2011 (released May 19) $1,760.00
2010 (released June 3) $1,510.00
2009 (released October 29) $1,360.00
2008 (released July 22) $1,199.95
2007 (released May 23) $825.95
2006 (released June 22) $800.00


Since a new U.S. Mint strategy for pricing numismatic products containing gold was implemented in 2009, the Buffalo coin may go up or down in price once a week — usually Wednesday, if needed — in accordance to the precious metals market. The Mint bases the coin’s price on the London Fix weekly average for gold.

This year’s debut price was determined by the yellow metal’s market range of between $1,650.00 and $1,699.99 an ounce. When the average price moves outside of this area, the United States Mint will adjust the proof Buffalo’s price by a corresponding amount of $50.

Sales Expectations

Higher prices have been an obvious factor in the coin’s reception. Sales of the 2011-dated version suffered greatly as its typical weekly price hovered closer to $2,000. The following table provides a look into sales performances of the coins through the years.

2006-2011 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin Mintages / Sales

Year Mintages / Sales
2011* 25,802
2010 49,263
2009 49,306
2008** 18,863
2007 58,998
2006 246,267


*Sales for the 2011 issue are as of March 12, 2012.

**In year 2008, the U.S. Mint offered the coin in four sizes and a four-coin set. Breakouts are 11,060 for the one ounce; 4,366 for the half ounce; 5,322 for the quarter ounce; 11,081 for the tenth ounce; and 7,803 for the four-coin set.

Bullion vs. Proof Buffalo Coin

The 2012 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin is entering the market at a timeframe which is close to the companion bullion version. The United States Mint began accepting orders for 2012-dated American Buffalo Gold Bullion coins on Monday, March 5, 2012.

Collector Buffalo proofs do differ from their investment-grade counterpart, the Buffalo Gold bullion coin. The U.S. Mint sells bullion coins in large quantities through its network of Authorized Purchasers, who resells them in smaller quantities for a modest premium over the melt value of the precious metal each contains. This method contrasts with collector proof products which have their prices adjusted up to one time a week and are offered by the U.S. Mint directly to the public.

Another differentiation is each coin’s finish. Proofs start with burnished coin blanks that are carefully struck multiple times with special dies to produce highly detailed images. They are also given the "W" mint mark on the obverse to indicate their production at West Point, NY. Bullion coins do not carry mint marks nor do they have a highly polished finish.

American Gold Eagle and American Gold Buffalo Differences

Another popular numismatic gold coin from the U.S. Mint is the American Eagle Gold Proof Coin. When this year’s issues become available — expected on April 19, some buyers will notice a price difference between the one ounce strike and the American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin.

The major distinction between the two coins other than their designs is their gold purity. American Gold Eagles are struck from 22 karat gold while, as mentioned, American Buffalo coins are composed of 24 karat gold. Additionally, the U.S. Mint offers the Eagles in four sizes and in a four-coin set, much as it once did for the Buffalo gold coins back in 2008.

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John M

I had not realized there was such a great difference in mintage quantities between 2006 and subsequent years. It seems probable than many collectors bought the 2006 coin hoping it would be a one-year issue, much as the UHR was in 2009, and lost interest in subsequent years. Thanks for the timely update.


Everybody wants the first issue of a coin to start the series (if they’re going to collect the series) plus the gold buffalo is very well done. Interestingly, 2008, the only year when the fractional coins were issued was also the lowest mintage year for the 1 oz coins. I would have thought the fractional set would have sold big too, first year and all. But instead it provided one of the rarer collector coins – the proof 1/2 oz gold buffalo at only 4,366 units.


It looks like 2011 will be the 2nd lowest mintage for the Proof AGB.
A good investment for those who purchased!

george glazener

Too expensive for me. Maybe I should call good ol’ barry and ask for a free handout? He loves giving things away to loafers..