Gold American Buffalo: The Indian Nickel Resurrected in Gold
The Gold American Buffalo, or commonly known as the Gold Buffalo, is the first 24-karat gold bullion coin ever issued by the U.S. Mint and was first made on June 22, 2006. The production of the gold buffalo was authorized by Public Law 109-145, also known as the Presidential $1 Coin Act.
This was the first time that the U.S. government has issued a 0.9999 pure gold coin to the public.
The Gold Buffalo has a face value of $50, but its actual value is obviously much higher. In 2006 and 2007, the U.S. government only issued a 1-ounce version of the Gold Buffalo -- the $50 face value coin. But in 2008, one-tenth ounce gold coin with a face value of $5, a one-fourth ounce gold coin with a face value of $10, and a half-ounce gold coin with a face value of $25, were also minted.
Gold American Buffalo Design
The obverse side of the Gold Buffalo was a modified version of the 1913 Indian Nickel Head, designed by James Earle Fraser (see image on left). It shows a Native American with braided hair. Fraser said it is a mixture of the features of three chiefs from different Indian tribes that he met. The reverse side of the coin is an American bison, usually referred to as a buffalo, atop a ridge. According to some experts, the buffalo is believed to be the bison named Black Diamond. It was an animal found during the 1910s, in New York City's Central Park Zoo.
There are a couple of notable changes between the nickel and the gold coin. The phrase “FIVE CENTS” on the Indian Nickel was changed to $50 1 OZ. .9999 FINE GOLD on the Gold Buffalo. In addition, the motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST” also appears on the left side of the new gold coin, just below the buffalo’s head. This motto appears on all gold coins minted by the U.S. Mint since 1908.
Note: This article was created exclusively for The U.S. Gold Bureau by The Numismatic Coins blog.