Some Mint News Blog readers have reported receiving a survey conducted on behalf of the United States Mint which raises the possibility of issuing a 100th Anniversary American Gold Buffalo Set containing proof and reverse proof coins. The survey also raises other possibilities related to the design and numismatic versions offered for the series.
The obverse and reverse designs for the American Gold Buffalo were created by James Earle Fraser and first appeared on the 1913 Indian Head or Buffalo Nickel. The year 2013 will mark the 100th anniversary of the design, which has been used on the 24 karat gold coin series since its introduction in 2006.
The survey mentions that the US Mint is considering the possibility of releasing a special two coin set which would include proof and reverse proof American Gold Buffalo coins. The proof coin would have the same appearance as the traditional proof coin that has been offered annually. The reverse proof coin would feature a frosted background and mirrored design elements, i.e. the reverse of the traditional appearance.
With regards to mintage, the sets “would not be minted to demand but would be minted in quantities sufficient so that most people who currently purchase American Buffalo coins would have the opportunity to buy the set.” A follow up question asks the survey respondent to recommend a mintage level for the set. One version of the survey includes the options 20,000, 35,000, 50,000, open sell window, and mint to demand.
The approximate price for the two coin set is indicated at $4,000 subject to the market price of gold.
If the set becomes a reality, this would be the fifth time that the US Mint has offered a special set incorporating a reverse proof coin. The first time was in 2006 when 20th anniversary sets were issued for the American Gold Eagle and American Silver Eagles. This was followed by the 10th Anniversary Platinum Eagle Set in 2007. Most recently the US Mint issued the 25th Anniversary Silver Eagle Set in 2011 and the San Francisco Silver Eagle Set in 2012.
The survey also includes questions about whether the US Mint should consider changing the design of the American Gold Buffalo. As mentioned in this post, the authorizing legislation for the program only requires the use of James Earle Fraser’s Buffalo Nickel design for the first year of issue for the series. For subsequent years, the Secretary of the Treasury has the authority to change both the obverse and reverse designs.
Another question in the survey raises the possibility of producing more options for the American Gold Buffalo coins beyond the individual one ounce proof coin, which currently represents the only annual offering. For a single year in 2008, the US Mint had offered a full range of collectible uncirculated coins as well as fractional proof coins, but these were abruptly canceled. Possibilities suggested in the survey include the return of an uncirculated coin and/or fractional versions.
While there is no guarantee that any of these products will be offered, last year a customer survey had provided the first indications of the San Francisco Silver Eagle Set. The final details of the offering had some slight differences from the details mentioned in the survey. Also several different versions of the survey were distributed, again with slightly different details in each. While no definitive conclusions can be drawn from the most recent survey, it does provide collectors with glimpse of some of the products or changes that the US Mint is considering for the American Gold Buffalo.