The buzz being heard throughout the United States within the last couple of
weeks is all about the new American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coin that went on sale
Thursday, June 22, 2006 with the release date scheduled for July 13, 2006.
What is the talk being heard from the Board Rooms to the Beauty Salons all
about? For the first time in history, the United States Mint is
releasing a one-ounce bullion coin that has a gold purity of 99.99%, or in other
words, is 24-karat gold. At last, the U.S. Mint has decided to join the
rest of the world with a 24-karat gold coin.
Under the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, the production of the American
Buffalo Gold Coin was mandated. It is a one-ounce legal tender coin with a
$50.00 face value of .9999 fine gold, and is available as both an
Uncirculated and Proof coin. The design of the coin is that of James
Earle Frazier's American classic, the Buffalo Nickel which made its first
appearance in 1913. The obverse of the new coin features the Native
American Indian found on Frazier's Nickel, and the reverse is patterned after
the 1913, Type I nickel with the Buffalo standing on a grassy mound. The
legends read, "$50," "1 OZ," and ".9999 FINE GOLD." The proof version of
this coin can be identified by a "W" mintmark. Both the uncirculated and
proofs are manufactured at the West Point branch mint.
The opinions expressed over the new American Buffalo Gold Coin vary from that
of elation to concern as expressed by John Nadler of Kitco.com in a June 27,
2006 interview posted on ResourceInvestor.com. In that interview Mr.
Nadler is quoted as saying, "Finally, the US has something it can compete with
on the International bullion scene. However, there are questions about
what may happen to the premium on the Eagle coins out there, and what they might
fetch when sold to a Dealer. A dual market may develop, with the .900 fine
(Am Eagles are .9167 fine) coins trading at lower offers and bids while the 24K
coin surges ahead at 'normal' premiums. As of now, we do not know for
sure. In any case, as far as Canada is concerned, at least these new coins
will not bear GST - so that is good news. Its price is the same as other
bullion coins (3-5-7-9 percent from the Mint to distributors). In the
final analysis, it may be too little too late. A total revamp of the US
bullion coin program may have been more desirable. For example, stop
making Eagle coins, start a whole new range of "Liberty" coins in all four
metals (gold, silver, platinum and palladium) with a unified design across the
range. That may have made a real impact."
One can certainly understand the range of emotions expressed. Now that
the U.S. Mint has struck a .9999 fine gold coin, can they just simply go back to
the .9167 fine gold? Will the demand for the higher purity cause the Mint
to abandon the American Eagle Bullion Coin Program? What will become of
the millions of Gold Eagles in the market place now? Has the U.S. Mint
just created a collectible that will sell at huge premiums by making this a one
year only issue? These are questions without answers. Not the U.S.
Government or the U.S. Mint will be able to determine the future outcome of the
bullion coin program. It will be in the hands of the consumers and the
market. We can only hope that the mint has the foresight to follow the
lead within the marketplace rather then attempting to manipulate the numismatic
market as they have done in the past. In the press release from the U.S.
Mint dated June 20, 2006, the document reads, "The United States Mint's American
Eagle 22-Karat Gold Bullion and Proof programs will continue, along with the
Silver and Platinum programs." There is nothing mentioned in the
release as to whether the .9999 gold coin program will continue.
Mintages for the American Buffalo Gold Coins have been limited to a maximum of
300,000 for the Proof issue, and is unspecified for the Uncirculated issue.
Proofs can be ordered directly from the U.S. Mint on their website
www.usmint.gov or via telephone at
1-800-USA-MINT, and they are priced at $800.00 (USD) each, and the uncirculated
issues will be distributed through those Coin Dealers who are authorized
purchasers from the mint.
While Coin Collectors in the United States and around the world are all
buzzing about the new 24-Karat American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coin, and are
excited over this new issue, it seems that it has created more questions about
future U.S. Bullion coin issues then it has answers. Has the U.S. Mint
just created a numismatic giant for Coin Collectors? We will just have to
adopt a wait and see attitude as to what the future holds in store for us.