The one-ounce, $50 Proof Gold Buffalo was the first legal-tender 24–karat gold coin to be struck in America. The Gold Buffalo resurrects James Earle Fraser’s classic design of the “Buffalo” or “Indian Head” nickel, minted from 1913 through 1938. The Gold Buffalo was not the first bullion coin to revive Fraser’s design, however. In 2001 the U. S. Mint produced a one-dollar Silver Buffalo in both uncirculated and proof versions.
Minting the Proof Gold Buffalo is a painstaking process that begins with finely detailed and highly polished dies. Planchets are meticulously formed from carefully selected .9999 fine American gold blanks. The planchets are fed by hand into presses operating at lower speed and greater pressure than that used for circulating coins and they are struck multiple times to ensure precise reproduction.
Throughout the process Proof Gold Buffalos never come in contact each other or with bare human hands. The result is a stunning rendering of the devices in a frosted finish rising over a blemish-free mirrored surface.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fraser’s design the U. S. Mint issued a special reverse-proof edition of the Gold Buffalo in 2013. On these coins mirror-like devices are imposed on a frosted background.
The one-ounce Proof Gold Buffalo has been in continuous mintage since 2006. Uncirculated and fractional-weight Gold Buffalos were offered in 2008, but the Mint discontinued their production after a single mintage despite their popularity.
The obverse of the Gold Buffalo features Fraser’s stern profile of a proud Native American leader, which he composed from sittings by three living Chiefs – Iron Tail, Big Tree, and Two Moons. Fraser’s model for the buffalo on the reverse is reputed to be Black Diamond, a denizen not of the Great Plains but of the Central Park Zoo.
The Gold Buffalo was created to meet demand for a 24-karat gold bullion product made in the USA. Its uniquely American design has made the Proof Gold Buffalo a perennial favorite among discerning investors worldwide.
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