2012 Proof American Gold Buffalo Coins

The United States Mint will begin sales of the 2012 Proof Gold Buffalo tomorrow March 15, 2012 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The American Gold Buffalo was introduced in 2006, as the first (.9999) 24 karat gold coin produced by the US Mint. The designs used for the coin have been the same for each year of issue, based on James Earle Fraser’s original 1913 Type 1 Buffalo Nickel. The obverse features the profile portrait of a Native American, while the reverse features the American Bison or Buffalo.

Bullion versions of the coin have been issued in one ounce size for each year from 2006 to present. The 2012-dated release was recently made available for ordering by authorized purchasers on March 5, 2012.

From 2006 to 2007, the US Mint offered one ounce proof versions of the coins for collectors. In 2008, offerings were expanded to include both proof and uncirculated versions in tenth ounce, quarter ounce, half ounce, and one ounce sizes, with four coin sets also available. The additional versions were canceled prior to the close of 2008, and from 2009 to present, the US Mint has only offered one ounce proof versions for collectors.

The 2012 Proof Gold Buffalo will be offered without a stated maximum mintage and without any ordering limits. The pricing will be determined based on the average weekly market price of gold with adjustments made as frequently as weekly. For the start of sales, the price of the coins will be $1,960, based on an average gold price within the $1,650 to $1,699.99 range.

With the market price of gold lower than the range used for the initial pricing, some collectors might wait and see if lower pricing will be effective next week.

At the time of this post, the 2011 Proof Gold Buffalo still remains available for sale on the US Mint’s website. This coin originally went on sale May 19, 2011, and through the most recent sales report has sold 25,802 units. This is down from the prior two years when final mintages reached 49,306 (2009) and 49,263 (2010). The lowest mintage for any one ounce proof Gold Buffalo occurred for the 2008 issue at 18,863. The lowest mintage for any issue of the series was for the one ounce 2008-W Uncirculated coin at 9,074 pieces.

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  1. Brad says

    Do you think the Mint will end sales of the 2011 coin the moment the 2012 coin goes on sale? Sometimes in the past that is what has happened. I’m still on the fence whether or not to gamble on the 2011.

  2. Jon in CT says

    The 24K Buffalo Gold Proof contains one FTO (Fine Troy Ounce) of gold, period. The 22K Gold American Eagle Proof contains one FTO of gold PLUS.033 troy ounce of silver PLUS .058 troy ounce of copper. Can anyone explain why the Buffalo Gold Proof commands a $25 premium over the Gold American Eagle Proof?

  3. says

    Michael, shouldn’t the last sentence “The lowest mintage for any issue of the series was for the one ounce 2008-W Uncirculated coin at 9,074 pieces” read…was the one-quarter ounce?

  4. says

    I’ve never really understood either, Jon. I can understand why the gold bullion commands a higher premium – mintages of gold eagle bullion coins are much higher than mintages of gold buffaloes. However, there is not all that great a gap between the proofs.

    The 24k vs. 22k argument doesn’t really convince me either, because the Canadian Maple bullion coin is cheaper than the gold eagle and the gold buffalo.

  5. Wylson says

    CaptainOverkill, in the past the mint has taken the previous year issues down if they had not sold out when they started sales of current year products. (excluding, mint sets, proof sets, base metal products).

    I’m thinking they have quite a few still unsold for 2011, so it will be interesting to see what happens next.

  6. says

    re:24k vs 22k…perhaps the blanks for the 24k are cheaper and easier to acquire than the 22k gold.
    Isn’t this sorta like the Mint looking to change the 90% silver coins to 99.9% because the blanks are cheaper?

  7. DNA says

    Can anyone explain why the Buffalo Gold Proof commands a $25 premium over the Gold American Eagle Proof?
    Because most people prefer Fraser’s classic design, which is present on both sides of the Gold Buffalo coin.

    1913 Type 1 Buffalo reverse > 1986 AGE reverse
    (at today’s 1-oz. gold coin prices, why not pay $25 extra for a better reverse design?)

  8. simon says

    The thing to also keep in mind viz. prices for the AGE vs Buffalo 1 Oz is that the Buffalo comes in a nice presentation case made of select hardwood. It is also a “special” mint release. I think the $25 price difference is nothing to complain about but then I have absolutely no complaints vis-a-vis the USMint.

  9. says


    I could buy that argument about the blanks, but then why would a Canadian maple bullion (which is 24 karat) sell for smaller premiums than the gold eagle? I think it must be something else.

  10. Rich Hogan says

    Keep in mind that law dictates that the mint acquire gold from U.S. mines that mine it in the year of issue. This adds cost to blanks for the US Mint compared to other mints by limiting suppliers.

  11. G says

    I love the Buffalo. My favorite gold coin. it would be nice if the mint mixed it up with a Burnished or fractional or… Wait for it: Buffalo Dragon set! (I would totally buy that)

  12. Broooster says

    The same reason the Canadian silver maple leaf sells for a smaller premium over the ASE. Which is…… I have no idea. And to boot, the maple leaf is 99.99 fine silver, and the ASE is 99.9. So go figure. If you wanted to get technical, wouldnt the maple leaf be a better deal ??

  13. Clair Hardesty says

    The mint uses a cost-plus formula to price its numismatic PM offerings. Those formulas obviously include higher costs to manufacture the Buffalo vs. the AGE. This may be due to packaging, handling, die cost, etc. The mint is rethinking how it assigns costs to various products this year and we may see an adjustment to the -plus part of the formulas for these coins sometime soon. The bottom line today is that when the current cost models were calculated, the Buffalo cost more to make than the AGE and the models have not been updated in some time. The notion of what should or should not be cheaper based on PM content alone is something that the mint has shown to be more complex. With the sale of over 40 million ounces of .999 fine SAEs last year, it does not surprise me that .999 blanks have become cheaper than .900 ones, which account for far less silver and number of coins. One the gold side, it is still the other way around in the US, 22K sales still far outweigh 24K ones. Even in the PM coin market, the economy of scale plays a part. In Canada, it is different, they have been manufacturing 24K coins for a long time and have plenty of Canadian gold to supply their needs. Pricing of the coins in the secondary market is a different beast, following the laws of supply and demand, especially when dealing with the truly bullion products. I think that many people still have trouble with the notion that none of the products that the mint regularly sells direct to the public are bullion coins. They are numismatic versions of their bullion counterparts, Manufactured to higher standards, handled and packaged individually. Even in the secondary market, proof GAEs in OGP sell for a premium above bullion coins (current APMEX price for a single 1oz bullion GAE = $1731, proof = $1836).

  14. stephen m. says

    Captain, Now i have that stuck in my head, The 24k vs 22k. I think the difference in the 24k vs 22k is for personal prefrence, by any mints customers, for the looks of the coin. Some may like the look and or purity of 24k while others like the look and or purity of 22k gold. I wouldn’t think the cost of either of the blanks to be any different in price. One has more gold, 24k, and the other, 22k, more time to produce.

  15. Clair Hardesty says

    Stephen, both coins contain the same amount of gold, 1Toz. The GAE contains additional silver and copper to bring the final purity down to 22K. A one ounce GAE (1.09Toz) is heavier than a one ounce Buffalo (1.0 Toz). There is actually another variety of gold blanks, the 90% (21.6K) gold, 10% copper version used to strike US commemorative coins, which are mostly classic half Eagles ($5) with the occasional full Eagle thrown in. This does cause some confusion because the $5 face value GAE contains 0.1 oz of gold but the $5 face value half Eagle contains ~0.2418 Toz of gold.

  16. says

    Don’t rush to buy the gold coins… Gold is CERTAIN to go much lower later in the year to somewhere in the 1,200 to 1,300 range. Over the last several years so much new gold has been mined with no place to go but in stockpiles. The continuing weakness in the sale of retail gold (the best support of high gold prices) continues to go southward. This is true of U.S. retail purchasers and in the major gold buying countries of India and China.

  17. says


    Thanks for the detailed explanation. I did not know about these production issues relating to the blanks at all (though I did know about the gold content and metal mixes in the various coins at least). It was very educational.


    It’s funny you should mention that. Gold production in South Africa has collapsed: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/south-african-gold-production-dives-again-90-year-lows

    Key quote: Geological and the lack of any major gold finds anywhere in the world in the last 20 years also suggest that the supply side of the gold equation remains bullish.

    If I remember correctly, platinum is also facing similar long-term production issues.

    Ultimately, the performance of gold is tied to how the economy performs. Retail sales of gold are at best of peripheral importance to how the price performs. The key driver is inflation.

    People who think the economy is getting better and who bought as an investment should think about letting go of their metals. People who are bearish on the long-term viability of the dollar and who think the latest round of money printing/inflation is nowhere near an end should hold onto the metal. I regard these steep declines as discounts and buying opportunities. Because I waited I will be able to get a much better price on the uncirculated SSB commemorative.

  18. EvilFlipper says

    I’d be patient buying here but wary. If we have a sudden price collapse in PM’s we could have a repeat of 08. But… If that happens they could panic and hit the CTRL-P and send it off to the races again. My advice here is to buy and fill the new holes in your sets. Stuff is too volatile to try to flip or invest and there doesn’t seem to be any really high demand products coming in the near future. I’m looking more to the cool looking foreign stuff right now since they make some pieces with great eye appeal. Just be wary of Chinese counterfeit crap. And don’t get anything from Japan…. Unless you have a lead storage safe and lead gloves to handle it;).

  19. says


    You don’t think the prospects for the upcoming silver eagle “special set” are good? Or do you mean in the immediate term, i.e., the next couple of months?

  20. says

    In my humble opinion, I do feel that the U.S. economy overall is recovering incrementally which I do find somewhat remarkable in itself given the abyss we stood upon in October 2008. That inflation should occur with printing money is a foregone conclusion. The question is how rapidly inflation will step up to meet to the newly created money. More than likely the inflation will come incrementally with intermittent sharp spikes up. Gold has exhibited a “risk” flavor with more U.S. investors in the last 6 months or so. If no more new gold were not pulled from the ground beginning today, according to many sources there is a TEN YEAR SUPPLY of gold for central banks, investors and retail buyers to around with. Gold is pretty but not good for much useful purpose.

  21. Jus-a-coin-luvr says

    I have a “newbie to gold coins” question for the group. What is the “draw” of paying ~$250 more for the gold Proof Buffalo vs an Unc gold AE or even the Canadian gold that is being discussed here. Are collectors paying that increased amount because they feel the Proof gold Buffalo will one day become that much more valuable vs a non-Proof Gold gold coin? I’m just trying to better understand the reason/logic for buying the gold Proof Buffalo vs other similar Unc gold coins. Thanks.

  22. says


    Modern proof coins are essentially the collector editions of bullion coins. They have an “ultra cameo” finish, a better strike, and fancier packaging. Their mintages are much lower than the typical bullion release and so are thought to have some secondary market value pre-built into them. Most proof versions of the common US bullion coins (such as the gold and silver eagles), though, do not go for much premium beyond what is standard in the markets, because the mint usually produces more than enough to meet collector demand.

    They’re also a good way for mints to make some extra money. Some world mints produce very small quantities of proof coins as a reason to charge higher prices and in an attempt to create excitement about their product. Sometimes these small issues will develop followings and generate huge premiums on the secondary markets. The US Mint does not typically engage in these practices.

    Generally, proof coins are meant to be collector pieces while bullion coins are meant to be investment pieces. If all you’re buying for is physical metal and don’t care about numismatics, you’re usually better off just buying bullion coins.

  23. says

    The U.S. Mint, using excellent consumer marketing tactics, resurrected the Buffalo nickel design regarded by many collectors and non-collectors as quintessentially American. It is a great work of design. It has been issued only since 2006 and so still appears as an (affordable?) collectable series, especially to newcomers. The AGE is showing it’s age. Minted since 1986, a new collector to this series would find a date set daunting not so much for rarity of the coins but for the sheer amount of dollars it would require to pursue. Since the Proof gold buffalos are made with relatively high mintages (and the AGE) they will always be available in the marketplace tied largely to the price of gold for the day.

  24. Jus-a-coin-luvr says

    Thanks for the explanation CO. I was expecting that bottom-line collectors pay the premium for a “collector” version of a coin just like we do for other proof versions from the Mint. Heck I’ve done that on many proof coins from the Mint and likely will for a long time to come.

    With gold prices still being what they are and the cost of buying the gold Buffalo, I was just wondering if people tend to pay that premium because they like the coin’s appearance, or are some hoping that one day it will become more valuable vs other gold coins like the AE. I know it is a gamble which coins we have that will become more valuable and even that can flip-flop over time too.

    From what I’m reading about gold prices (lately), it certainly seems to be a good time to wait and see vs jumping-in today. Thanks for the help.

  25. Jus-a-coin-luvr says

    Thanks Gary, your comment about the Mint’s “excellent marketing tactic” would be accurate for me. :^) I have to confess that it works on me and I’ve always been fond of the gold Buffalo coin. I’m gonna sit on the sidelines and see where gold prices go for now and plan to have the Buffalo in my collection one day.

    PS: I’ve lurked here for a long time, absorbing all the viewpoints and tips that you folks share here. It has been very useful to me too, so thanks!

  26. Brad says

    I got my answer regarding the 2011 Proof Gold Buffalo. It’s still being offered side-by-side with the 2012. So, I’m going to take a pass on it. Who knows how many were struck, but apparently the Mint plans to sell them until they’re gone, effectively robbing the 2011’s of any premium they might have otherwise had. They’re probably just overpriced bullion now. Too bad.

  27. ClevelandRocks says

    Mint sucks. 2011 still for sale along with the new 2012 coin.
    Pull the ’11 now or continue to alienate your base collectors!

  28. VABEACHBUM says

    Well said, Cleveland!! I was hoping that the Mint would cut sales at a nice, round 25K, and like you, am very disappointed that the languid sales have been allowed to continue. Can only mean that the Mint struck a butt-load of the 2011 PF Buffalos (based on 2009 and 2010 numbers) and wants to continue selling rather than incur additional costs for scrapping. Here’s hoping for 30K!!

    WRT the 22K vs 24K Gold, the primary purpose of the “22K Alloy” used in the GAE coins was, from day one, to create a harder, mercantile-type coin suitable for extensive handling (bags, tubes, etc.) with minimal damage to and/or metal loss from the coin. The GAE bullion blanks simply carried over to the numismatic collectables.

    The 24K Buffalos were implemented in response to the other “pure” gold bullion coins being struck at the time, namely our neighbors to the North. Although advertised and sold as a bullion coin suitable for IRAs and the like, their recurring annual population of 200K UNC and 50K PF confirms they are a US Mint sales gimmick.

    Hey, I’ll be the first to admit; I got sucked in and am one of those stalwart Gold Buffalo date-set and variety-set guys. It is a classic, Americana coin. And, as some one had pointed out earlier, it would be a lot easier to back-fill a date set to 2006, vice 1986. Fortunately, though, I have been collecting the Gold Buffalos since the start of the series, and consider myself to be very lucky wrt the 2008 issues.

  29. Clair Hardesty says

    The numismatic versions of the bullion coins will always have their values tied to spot because they are minted in sufficient quantities. That does not mean that they will have the same premium over spot as the bullion coins, it just means that changes in their value will primarily depend on spot changes. The proof and uncirculated versions should continue to enjoy higher premiums above spot when compared to the bullion coins so buying them is not fruitless or foolish. It isn’t the thing to do if you are looking for your investment to multiply, but then neither is buying bullion. The same is true of common date classic double Eagles minted a hundred years ago. If all you are trying to do is invest in gold then you need to look for the vehicle that gives the best buy-sell return per dollar spent. It is important to note that isn’t always the item with the lowest markup over spot. If you want to make money in the short term you need to find an item whose buy and sell costs are very close to each other and whose base price is very volatile so there are lots of buy/sell opportunities. It is also important to remember that price and cost are not always the same thing. Taxes, commissions, shipping, etc. can affect final cost of buying or selling your investments. The mint is not in the business of artificially creating value for collectors by limiting mintages of its numismatic offerings. No modern issue will ever likely ever be truly rare in the numismatic sense, not even coins that are only minted in quantities of a few thousand because a hundred years from now most of those coins will probably still exist in qualities near those at which they were issued. The numismatic offerings from the mint are issued because we like to collect them and are willing to pay enough that the mint can make a modest profit for the treasury which justifies their striking. To expect the mint to take actions that will drive up aftermarket values is expecting too much.

  30. MarkInFlorida says

    I don’t mind paying extra for proof gold because I think the interest of IRA buyers in them will keep the premiums up, and just in case we have a real financial crisis and the government calls in all the gold like in 1933, I think proofs will be exempt as numismatic items.

  31. TomP says

    The 2011 unc. AGE 1 ounce had a final mintage of 8822 versus the 2008 unc. AGE 1/4 ounce mintage of 8883. Assuming the Mint made multiple ‘batches’ during the year, the mintage numbers were largely controlled by demand. I wonder if at the mintage time of the last ‘batch’, Mint officials were cognizant of the low issue mark of the AGE series? A difference of 62 between the 2 coins begs the question of whether it was deliberate, especially since the Mint continued selling the 2011 inc. AGE into this year and could have sold more.

    Do IRAs accept non bullion coins and are there still tax differences between bullion (at capital gains rate) and collectables (at reg. rates)?

  32. yipee says

    TomP –

    The 8822 number cited for the ’11-W $50 is not a final mintage — that number will likely not be known for another 9 months or so. Eric Jordan is the go-to source for those figures.

  33. yipee says

    Also, it is an interesting quirk that Proof gold buffalos are not allowed in IRA’s but bullion ones are.

  34. walt says

    I am a newbie and was looking at the Mint’s Buffalo’s I noticed that the,
    2012 American Buffalo One Ounce Gold Proof Coin (PJ9)
    and 2011 American Buffalo One Ounce Gold Proof Coin (BU4)
    My question is what does (PJ9) and (BU4) stand for. I read that BU means brilliant uncirculated, what does the 4 stand for? And can find no info on (PJ9).
    Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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