Production of these highly anticipated coins is authorized by Public Law 109-145, dated December 22, 2005, also known as the Presidential $1 Coin Act.
The new American Buffalo Gold coin’s obverse and reverse designs feature images originally prepared by noted American sculptor James Earle Fraser, once a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, for America’s 5-cent coin (nickel).
That popular coin, known as the Indian Head, or Buffalo, nickel was introduced in 1913 and showcases the native beauty of the American West.
The Native American depiction on the coin’s obverse is believed to be based on three different Indian chiefs – two of whom were named by the designer as Chief Iron Tail and Chief Two Moons – who modeled for Fraser as he sculpted its design. Conflicting statements exist on the third Indian as being either Chief John Big Tree of the Onondaga tribe, or John Two Guns, son of White Calf.
It is widely believed that the bison on the coin’s reverse was modeled after “Black Diamond,” a popular attraction at the New York Zoological Gardens.
In the first year of the coin’s issuance, 1913, there were two distinct varieties, the first showing the bison on a mound and the second with the base redesigned to a thinner, straight line. American Buffalo Gold Coins bear the original Fraser Type I design.
American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coins are the first .9999 fine 24-karat gold coins ever struck by the United States Mint.
The Presidential One Dollar Coin Act of 2005 authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to strike one ounce, .9999 fine gold bullion coins.
The designs are based on the original 1913, Type I Buffalo nickel, as designed by James Earle Fraser.
The obverse features a profile representation of a Native American.
The reverse features an American Buffalo (also known as Bison).
Diameters of the various issues will be exactly the same as the Eagles, but of course each Buffalo will be slightly thinner as it lacks the extra bulk of alloy present in the Eagles. The American gold Eagle program will continue to be struck, as it has since 1986, in all four sizes of .917 fine gold.
Packaging for the new gold Buffaloes will consist of each coin sealed in a mylar-like plastic sheet, configured 4 rows of 5 coins each. These 20-coin sheets will come from the Mint in boxes of 500 1-ounce coins per box.