The American Gold Buffalo is a one-ounce coin offered each year by the United States Mint. Alongside the American Gold Eagle bullion coin, the Gold Buffalo is part of the mint's growing bullion coin program. Compared to the 22-karat Gold Eagle, the Gold Buffalo is 24 karats, meaning that its gold content is .9999 fine, or 99.99% pure.
For the first time since 2008, the U.S. Mint is strongly considering bringing back fractional sizes for the Gold Buffalo.
2008 was not just the first but the only time that smaller "fractional" Gold Buffaloes were offered by the mint. The coin came in tenth-ounce, quarter-ounce, and half-ounce sizes that year, all bearing the same design created by James Earle Fraser for the "Buffalo" nickel in 1913. These fractional Buffaloes were offered with either the collectible Proof finish or the more common Uncirculated finish.
Now, the AGB is only produced in the standard 1 oz size. But there appears to be a bit of an opening in the mint's production schedule to accommodate a new set fractional Buffaloes (and thus appeal to consumers interested in semi-numismatic U.S. gold coins). After a decade, the annual First Spouse gold bullion coin series is set to expire alongside the parallel Presidential dollar program. This means that, in the absence of new Gold Buffaloes, the mint will be churning out thousands of less gold coins in 2017.
However, the possibility of new Gold Buffalo sizes this year is hardly a hunch or a rumor. The man fittingly known as the "Coin Analyst," numismatic writer Louis Golino, explains: "The news about the fractional Buffaloes was included in an e-mail sent by Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson to participants of the Mint’s forum held in Philadelphia last October, according to a collector who went to the forum."
It's still unclear whether any 2017 fractional Gold Buffaloes would be produced to demand or if the mint will implement predetermined mintage limits. While some collectors advocate for limited mintage totals, the U.S. Mint is unlikely to impose such restrictions if it looks like demand will be strong. Moreover, this could take enough demand away from the fractional-sie American Gold Eagle coins to cause the mint to rethink continuing the small proof versions of the AGE.
The "strong possibility" of bringing back fractional Gold Buffalo coins is just one among many several other changes being pursued by the mint, including a new pre-ordering system for coin collectors and the introduction of the first-ever Palladium Eagle bullion coin.
The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.
Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.