In 2006, the United States Mint introduced a new 24 karat gold bullion and collector coin featuring James Earle Fraser”s classic design from the Buffalo Nickel. The American Gold Buffalo was instantly popular with both bullion investors and collectors. Proof versions of the coin have been struck for each year from 2006 to present.
The obverse design features Fraser”s original image of a Native American chief creating by taking a composite of three real life models. In keeping with the original Type 1 1913 Buffalo Nickel design, the fields appear textured rather than the smooth mirrors typically used for proof coinage. The reverse design features an American Bison on mound, colloquially referred to as a Buffalo. The original inscription at the base was modified to indicate the legal tender value of $50 and the precious metal weight and purity.
The Gold Buffalo experienced its greatest demand and highest mintages during the initial year of release. In 2006, there were more than 300,000 of the one ounce bullion coins purchased. The United States Mint also offered a one ounce proof version for collectors, which sold an astounding 246,267 pieces.
In the following years, sales levels for the annual proof offering would decline setting the stage for some low mintage keys. In 2008, the US Mint offered fractional versions of the Proof Gold Buffalo, as well as a four coin set. Additional collectible uncirculated versions served to further divide collector attention. When the dust settled, mintage levels for the 2008-W proofs were at low levels which would not soon be revisited.