West Point Mint Strikes Reverse Proof American Buffalo Gold Coins

by Mike Unser on June 17, 2013 · 15 comments

One of the fascinating aspects of visiting the West Point Mint on June 4 was watching a press strike 2013-W Reverse Proof American Buffalo Gold Coins.

Ellen McCullom, Plant Manager of the West Point Mint

Ellen McCullom, Plant Manager of the West Point Mint, holds one of the just produced 2013-W $50 Reverse Proof American Buffalo Gold Coins

Full-scale production of the reverse proofs actually kicked off on the morning that I and other media members toured the facility as a part of the celebration for its 75th anniversary.

Obverse Photo of 2013-W $50 Reverse Proof American Buffalo Gold Coin

Close-up photo of the obverse of a 2013-W $50 Reverse Proof American Buffalo Gold Coin. These photos just can’t capture the coin’s beauty.

It’s a different anniversary that the special edition gold coins commemorate. They celebrate the 100th anniversary of designs by James Earle Fraser that debuted on Type I Buffalo nickels in 1913. Designs so popular, that they were reprised in 2006 for the annual series of American Buffalo gold coins in bullion and regular proof.

Reverse Photo of 2013-W $50 Reverse Proof American Buffalo Gold Coin

Close-up photo of the reverse of a 2013-W $50 Reverse Proof American Buffalo Gold Coin

Unfortunately, we didn’t see the inaugural reverse proof striking. That was a barely missed opportunity. As Paul Gilkes of Coin World recently reported, it occurred at 8:45 a.m. ET on the day of our visit. But we did see and snap photos of the first few hundred that will eventually get delivered to collectors. And again, like the photos we took of the 2013-W Enhanced Uncirculated Silver Eagles and of the $2.3+ billion in gold bars stored in one of the West Point Mint vaults, they just don’t do them justice.

West Point Mint Press Operator Justin Pagan Inspecting Gold Buffalo

Justin Pagan, West Point Mint press operator, producing reverse proofs 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 Gold Buffalo. The last step for Justin, shown here, is visually inspecting the coin.

In comparing the many different coins we saw produced that day, the enhanced uncirculated Silver Eagles jumped out the most for me. They are absolutely gorgeous. Saying that, and to the regret of my wallet, the reverse proofs are also head-turning attractive. It’s gonna be hard to say no to this one, even though it’ll take a stack of Benjamin bills to get.

Press and $50 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalos

Close-up of the press and $50 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalos

A reverse proof is a first for the series of American Buffalo Gold Coins, making it a key coin to own. Regular proofs have frosted designs against mirror-like backgrounds. This year’s coin was released on May 23. The upcoming reverse proof American Buffalo has mirror-like designs against frosted backgrounds.

Section of a Tray Holding Reverse Proofs

A section of the coin tray in front of the press is shown here. The depth and reeded edges of the Buffalo coins can be seen.

$50 American Buffalo gold coins are struck in one-ounce of .9999 fine, or 24-karat, gold. Because of the gold content, the price for the special reverse proof will not be known until shortly before its release later this year. The standard or regular version that launched on the 23rd is $1,740.00 but can change weekly based on gold’s direction. This proof can be ordered from the U.S. Mint today, right here.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark June 17, 2013 at 7:48 am

It looks like the fields are flat for this coin. Anyone else notice that?

Victor June 17, 2013 at 8:49 am

Mark, Because it’s a reverse proof coin, the field probably looks a lot better, flat, instead of “lumpy.” it gives the coin the contrast a reverse proof must have. I think! 🙂

Joe#2 June 17, 2013 at 8:51 am

Looks gorgeous. I am sure the pics here don’t do this baby justice. Looking forward to the release to have both 2013-w ( regular and r.p. ).100th anniversary for the buffalo nickle. 🙂

Victor June 17, 2013 at 8:55 am

“Niles” gotta have it! 🙂

A&L Futures June 17, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Hey Mrs. McCullom,

Where’s your ‘white’ gloves? Hope I don’t get that coin.

RonnieBGood June 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Funny how early they begin striking coins and when we will finally receive them after we place our orders. My biggest pet peeve with the Mint is that the coins are placed on sale (with the knowledge of similar orders in the past) and the mint still takes up to 5 months + to ship the initial coin orders! Latest example being the Enhanced Proof ASE orders placed late in the day on the 1st day of sale on May 9th with a ship date of October 17th! This Mint has consistently done this for years. You would think the US Mint would get better at this after 25 + years of American Eagle (and other much older coin) production, sale and shipment.

Backroad June 17, 2013 at 6:05 pm


The first shipments of the West Point set was supposed to be today. It was delayed to July 2 early this morning. Surprised I don’t see that mentioned here.

Even the sets I ordered on the last day has a ship date of 9/30, not 10/17…

I need the price of gold to stay low (or go lower) until these rp buffalos are released… 🙂

wdg5 June 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Absolutely awesome news, thanks so much for posting this story. I have thoroughly enjoyed the series that contained the San Francisco Mint facility tour in the past. This is a sure fire runaway hit of a product when it hits the shelves, cant wait to get my hand on one of these.

RonnieBGood June 19, 2013 at 11:33 am

Backroad – Mint changes the ship dates at will.
The point is who else operates with a item placed for sale with such a long lead time to shipment. Perhaps a custom order, but last I checked they are not engraving our names on the coins.

Brian V. June 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Hey Backroad…you got your dip in gold today…not sure where it’s going in the next few weeks. I was talking about the end of fiscal quater with a buddy last night, but we’re a little shell shocked seeing silver drop below $20/oz., didn’t expect a 10% drop when demand is at record highs!!!
When will the banks learn we can see through their manipulation of the markets?

ABC123 June 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Backroad –

Where did you hear that shipping of the ASE West Point sets would be delayed? Would you be able to provide a link? I’ve run some searches and come up empty.

I know they are delayed, as I still see the message, “…units backordered. Expected to ship on 06/17/2013.” when I track the order.

Victor June 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm

@ABC123-Thank you for placing an order with ModernCoinMart. We appreciate
your business. We are contacting you today because you placed an
order for the new 2013 2 Coin West Point Silver Eagle Set. As you may
already be aware the US mint had previously scheduled shipment of the
first group of sets toward the middle of June. Based on this
information we estimated that we could begin shipping on June 28th.

Unfortunately, the US mint is not always as predictable as we might
like and they have recently pushed back their estimated ship date to
the first week of July. As a result our new estimated beginning ship
date is July 15th for NGC graded Early Releases/First Releases
designated sets and 15 to 30 days later for Non Early Releases/Non
First Releases designated sets. PCGS graded sets originally had an
estimated ship date of July 12th, however that date has been pushed
back to July 30th.

Backroad June 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm


No, no, I need the dip when these are *released*. 🙂

TPTB will raise the price of gold a couple weeks before these are released because they don’t like me. I can prove that by Ag and Au dropping every time I buy. Didn’t matter if I bought Ag at $8 or $30, the price dropped after I bought… 🙂

Backroad June 21, 2013 at 5:13 pm


I got an e-mail from the mint the morning of 6/17 stating my 3 sets (that were to ship 6/17) were backordered to 7/2. (My order page on the mint site still tells me my order is in process, and will ship 6/17. Go figure.)

If you go look at the numis forums on NGC or PCGS, or the silver forum on Kitco, you’ll find the info you’re looking for. Most did get the 7/2 backorder date.

Everyone should note that very early orders *are* shipping. Someone posted a pic from Silvertowne of a at least 4000 sets. So the delays many of us are seeing may be because some of the dealers got their big orders in very early, and since the mint ships on first come, first served, the rest of us have to wait until their order is fulfilled.

Order numbers 41478xxx and 41479xxx are shipping. My order is in the low 41480xxx (My confirmation e-mail was sent 15 minutes after the sales started) and hasn’t shipped yet…

Gene Melton September 16, 2013 at 11:48 am

The price for the RP Buffalo was advertised @ $1640. before and during the first few days the mint put them on sale, then they put a price tag of $1740. due to the price of gold going up. If you put your order in after they priced it at $1740. and the price of gold drops more, does the mint lower the price in accordance with their pricing scale on the orders that have been placed, but are still on back order?

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