2013-W Proof American Gold Buffalo Coins

Today, May 23, 2013 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin sales of the 2013 Proof Gold Buffalo.

2013 Proof Gold Buffalo

The American Gold Buffalo bullion and collector coin series began in 2006 and represented the first 99.99% pure gold coin produced by the United States Mint. The designs for the coin are from James Earle Fraser’s original 1913 Type 1 Buffalo Nickel featuring the profile of a Native American on the obverse and an American Bison on the reverse. This design will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year, which the US Mint will mark with the issuance of an individual reverse proof coin later in the year.

During the course of the series, the US Mint has issued one ounce bullion versions of the coin for each year of issue. One ounce proof versions have also been issued for each year, with fractional one-half, one-quarter, and one-tenth ounce coins issued in 2008. Collectible uncirculated versions with the “W” mint mark were issued for a single year in 2008, with one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce coins available.

The one ounce 2013-W Proof Gold Buffalo is offered without a stated maximum mintage or household ordering limit. The initial pricing for the coin will be $1,790, based on an average gold price within the $1,400 to $1,449.99 range. A lower price was just narrowly missed since the Wednesday PM London Fix price was above $1,400. Even though the weekly average was in a lower tier, the US Mint uses an additional criteria that the Wednesday PM price must agree directionally with any shift in price brackets. As with all numismatic gold coins, the price will remain subject to weekly adjustment.

How will the 2013 Proof Gold Buffalo fare with collectors? There are several factors that will have an impact on ordering.

The initial price is lower compared to the prior year when the 2012-dated proof was initially offered at $1,960. As we have seen with some silver offerings, lower pricing can sometimes stimulate demand.

On the other hand, some collectors may choose to purchase the upcoming reverse proof version of the coin instead of the regular proof version. This would serve to hamper demand for the traditional offering as collectors opt for the special offering.

The relatively early sell out of the 2012-dated proof and positive secondary market performance may also impact collector sentiments. After the 2011-dated release lingered in availability for 19 months, the 2012-dated release sold out after about ten months at the second lowest mintage level for a one ounce proof coin of the series. Sometimes these unexpected sell outs can result in higher demand for the subsequent issue of a series from collectors who felt that they missed out.

The mintage levels or last reported sales for each proof issue of the series are included below.

Proof American Gold Buffalo Mintages

Date 1 oz. 1/2 oz. 1/4 oz. 1/10 oz.
2006 246,267
2007 58,998
2008 18,863 12,169 13,125 18,884
2009 49,306
2010 49,263
2011 28,693*
2012 19,675*
*last reported sales



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Comments

  1. Dan in Fla says

    Yes its a huge premium but once you see that beautiful gold proof buffalo it is all worth it, $200.00 cheaper is a nice reduction so I’m in for one. I want a Buffalo reverse proof set this year and I will have one.

  2. Dan in Fla says

    New ship date on the West Point silver set it looks like 8/30/13 and not 9/30/13 anymore.

  3. VABEACHBUM says

    Spot gold is $1380 +/- and the product price is $1790. So, assuming that this one ounce of gold does not turn into a properly sized gold coin blank and this 2013 Proof Buffalo all on it’s own, that $410 “premium” per coin has to cover the equipment capitalization, operation, maintenance and repair; the manufacture, mantenance and recurring replacement of the special proof dies; labor categories along the manufacturing line; general & administrative overhead costs; product packaging; a little bit of profit.

    As Michael, Louis and others have pointed out so many times previously to us readers, the US Mint is not funded by the US Tax Payers. It is established as, and intended to be a self sustaining, manufacturing entity – whose “little bit of profit” is then transferred the US Treasury to leverage the obligations of the US Gov’t.

    Given the equipment, materials and level of effort, not that much of a “premium.” And, for those of us still holding on to our 2008 sets and our 2012 coins, the risk was worth the reward. Buy what you like and can afford.

  4. Samuel says

    do u guys think more efforts are needed for the buffalo than proof eagle, besides the metal content?

  5. Ray says

    @Samuel, what do you mean by “more efforts”?

    Other than bringing back the fractionals, and a premium reduction, I think all is good with the Buffalos.

  6. Dan says

    Hey VAnot exclusively for the making

    I am sorry to diagree, but I think it is a little more than ” a little bit of profit”. I am sure that the piece of equiptment used is not exclusive to the Buffalo alone, in fact I would think that it is probably used for several product lines. I understand that it warrants a premium for the special care that should be taken when producing a buffalo, but with gold at 1400, a 28% premium is a bit much. It is a beautiful coin though, just a shame they are getting a little too greedy.

    If gold continues to fall and reaches 1000, will it be worth a 39% premium??? Maybe the mint should reevaluate their pricing of gold and Platinum like they did with the silver products.

    Just my thoughts

  7. Brian says

    I think he means is it physically more work for the mint.

    I don’t know the answer to that. But I would think 99.99% would make it softer and require more delicate handling both before and after striking the coin.

  8. says

    VABB,

    I must disagree with you here.

    While the US Mint is a business and must run itself as one, part of the reason the premiums are so high was as a result of a decision to adjust all gold prices upward this year in the face of falling spot prices. The Mint was able to make do before, so I frankly don’t believe it’s just a simple matter of staff and standard fixed asset costs. More than likely, it’s due to either a poor job hedging against a fall in gold and silver prices, or simple desire to see how much of an increase in prices collectors will “suck up.”

    Additionally, the US Mint’s common proof gold products almost immediately fall in value when they hit the secondary markets, which is another strike against these premiums.

    Earlier this year, I planned on saving some money to finally buy a proof buffalo, but I changed my mind and bought a bullion gold Britannia instead after they went and raised the prices on me. I don’t regret the decision at all.

  9. joe says

    If we assume that 20K units are ordered (and using today’s spot price), that’s $8.2M for a single coin offering. The Mint makes a few more coins than just this particular coin, so I’m sure they spread out the costs to “cover the equipment capitalization, operation, maintenance and repair; the manufacture, maintenance and recurring replacement of the special proof dies; labor categories along the manufacturing line; general & administrative overhead costs; product packaging;” across the other product offerings. Yes, there is some degree of costs associated with this particular coin, but not even close to $410 per coin. My guess would be in the range of $100-200 per coin (max).

    If the Mint’s costs are over $200 for this coin, then it’s another reason management of the Mint should be outsourced to someone with common business sense.

  10. ultra-crepidarian says

    I just bought one. Of course, I kind of expected to get it $50 cheaper but that didn’t happen. The price is what it is. I just hope I get a high quality coin delivered.

  11. VABEACHBUM says

    @ Dan – While I don’t disagree that some of the equipment probably is used for multiple products, there still are fixed and recurring costs associated w/ each strike of each coin. With that, said equipment would depreciate that much faster and would need to be replaced that much sooner if it were servicing multiple products lines.

    As for the premium “as a percentage,” you must consider that the combined manufacturing costs are a fixed value of “X.” As the overall product price is adjusted downward according to the cost of the single largest, material component “Y” being reduced, the “percentage premium RELATIVE to the product price” is going to increase, but only because the rational relationship dictates that it must: X / (X + Y) as Y approaches 0 is 1, i.e., 100% premium.

    The manufacturing costs are and will remain constant until either equipment changes are made or process efficiencies are realized. Similarly, we’ll never see a situation where the gold will be free. Finally, if we were to consider the other end of the cost model where gold shoots above $2K and beyond, no one would complain about the pittance of a relative percentage assigned to the premium. Instead, the focus will be directed towards the exorbitant cost of the gold.

  12. VABEACHBUM says

    @ C.O. – A portion of the fault with the Mint’s current pricing for PM products, and for their radical restructuring of the current pricing grid, goes back to the way the Mint extended the very first Grid into Version 2 when the spot gold prices started to swoon and exceed the upper bounds of V1.

    I don’t have access to the first grids on my work computer, but if I remember correctly, the basis for V1 as defined in the comments section was spot Au at $1,100 with manufacturing, G&A and profits combined at 25%; a one once gold coin would have cost $1375.00. Using this as the origin point, the pricing grid moved up and down along a constant-slope line in spot Au increments from this point.

    But, when the Mint needed to expand the upper bounds of the grid into V2, they claimed that the basis for the revised grid was spot Au at $1,500 and 25%, yet they extended the very same grid along the very same increments found in V1. Given their newly defined origin point, V2 – in the form that was published – was mathematically and statistically impossible. And, if anything, the customers had a little bit of an advantage during this time.

    Like I said, I don’t have the old grids in front of me, but I know with certainty that their was a huge disparity in what the V2 Grid was, as compared to what it should have been. I’m surprised this V3 Grid and repricing by the Mint had not happened sooner.

  13. Pool Shark says

    VABEACHBUM,

    How is it that the Mint gets a $35.00 premium on a Proof Silver Eagle, but expects $410.00 on a smaller, softer, gold proof coin?

  14. Ray says

    @PoolShark, I’m not trying to completely justify the mints pricing model, but the huge disparity in the ASE and AGE/Buff premiums is probably the huge difference in quantity sold.

  15. Pool Shark says

    Ray,

    Okay. Then let’s compare a similarly low-mintage coin:

    The AtB Uncirculated Silver Coins. They are 3 INCHES IN DIAMETER, and WEIGH 5 OUNCES. They require a unique press and dies (for each of the 5 different annual designs), and require special vapor-blasting treatment. Only 15,000 to 17,000 of each design were minted last year.

    Premium? Currently about $66.00.

    Can anyone adequately explain why it costs over 6 times more to produce a simple 1-ounce, 24-carat gold coin in similar quantities?

  16. Jus-a-coin-luvr says

    I think the oft used phrase “it is what it is” applies here to the purchase price of the Gold Buff. The Mint is gonna do what they feel is right regardless of whether we want to pay a large premium over spot for the coin.

    For me it boils down to would I pay an extra $400 over Gold spot just to have my own copy of this particular Proof Buff coin? For this version of the coin, my answer is a “no” at these price premiums. But, I do very much like the coin’s design. So, I’m gonna wait to view the Reverse Proof Buff to see if I want to get into a Gold Buff this year, but I expect the price premium could be even greater on that coin. Decisions…and as is oft said, “collect what you like”!

  17. VABEACHBUM says

    @ Pool Shark – Actually, the $35 premium on the ASE is the one that I cannot defend, as that represents approx 60% of the product price and, under any other product / market condition, they would be collecting dust on the shelves.

    Given current spot, production, and volume sales, I’d like to see the ASE PR coin selling in the $40 to $45 range, and still at a 50% premium. Yet, the majority within our numismatic hobby will not hesitate to drop $60 – $100 for an appealing, high quality silver proof coin from any of the major – and some minor mints.

    Although our reasons for buying these higher premium coins might vary: continuity of a series, special release, potential for return, unique interests and so on, we as hobbyists have overtly allowed our discretionary expenditure threshold to climb, and the respective world mints are reaping the benefits by placing their highest margins into their highest volume products.

  18. Mark in Florida says

    The Mint sells bullion buffaloes for less about $50 over spot I guess (since dealers don’t charge much more than that).

    So how much more does it cost to make a proof? I bet it doesn’t cost twice as much for improved dies and polished blanks. So their profit on these would be about $300. Maybe they need it to make up for losses on things like the First Spouses where the 3000 sold couldn’t possible pay for the designing and diemaking costs.

    Years ago gold coins from the Mint were always cheaper from coin dealers a year or two after issue because they bought them for melt from collectors who didn’t want them anymore, or whose heirs sold them. Then gold rose for the last decade and everything was worth more than we paid. Maybe we are going back to the old normal.

    So maybe the “true collectors” you guys were fighting about the other day buy their gold straight from the MInt and don’t care if they are going to go down in value, and investors and speculators buy when they can get them cheap.

  19. Larry says

    In order to know how much the mint is making, you would need to know the manufactured cost of their products. Who here knows the mints cost? We may be able to be close on the cost of raw gold and silver, but who knows their labor and overhead costs? In order to stay in business, a manufacturer needs to make enough of a margin to buy materials, pay labor, and make a profit. From what I have seen being in manufacturing, the mint is not making that much of a margin.

  20. Pool Shark says

    coin-luvr,

    Agreed. For someone who really likes buffaloes, why not simply collect nice bullion specimens? I’ve been quite impressed with the quality of US Mint bullion of late. While they’re certainly not ‘proof,’ I have many near-perfect examples of Buffaloes and Eagles (both silver and gold) that I’ve paid simple bullion premiums for. Also, if you can get the 5-ounce AtB bullion coins in sealed Mint tubes or monster boxes (before they’ve been cherry-picked by the dealers) there are many beautiful specimens to be had.

    I much prefer getting ‘near-perfect’ silver bullion for only $3.00/ounce over spot versus paying ridiculous premiums for a proof version. Furthermore, we all know that most proof coins will be carefully locked away and stored by collectors so the populations of the ‘perfect’ specimens will remain quite stable. Whereas bullion coins will be treated as such; knocked around, banged-up, traded, sold, and eventually melted for their metal content. Somewhere down the road, there will be a shortage of truly high-grade, pristine bullion coins in some of the lower-mintage issues (ahem; AtB anyone?), and their numismatic values could easily skyrocket.

    Just something to think about…

  21. Jus-a-coin-luvr says

    @Pool Shark, I would be perfectly fine with a “Bullion Buff”. I’m not very particular about having to get “proof” coins. I like them, of course, but am not “married” to the idea of them. When it comes to spending north of $1000 for a single coin, the Gold Bullion sounds very good to me. Thanks for the thoughts/ideas and I’m “thinking about it for sure”…

  22. Ray says

    @PoolShark, very, very good point. I wasnt even thinking about the 5oz atbs, even tho i knew they required a unique press. i remember seeing an interview in Philly about how they were able to buy 3 of these presses, and that only like 20 (dont quote that #) were available in the world.

    It is complete bs. Youre right. I havent bought my proof gold buff yet. Maybe I shouldnt say yet, because honestly, i’m on the fence. I do really like the bullion gold buffalos ad i think they are incredible. im waiting to see how the first week of sales go, and maybe i’ll buy one. i’m still trying to wrap my head around the non-proce drop yesterday for the gold products. a freakin 5 minute spike in gold kept this change from happening? i knew the us mint was fd up years before i got into this.

    you have extremely good points. i cant justify a $400 premium at the moment. I certainly wouldnt even consider it for a 22k coin. i will be buying the reverse proof withuot a doubt (as will alost everyone imo, since at this point, its just a one off and will seem super special when it goes onsale).

    Man i love this forum. u all are very imformative and kind. thx for the great reads and diversions that make my work days fly by

  23. Samuel says

    for buffalo, i would buy 2013 ones a couple of yrs down the road. i bought 2009 buffalo at $1740 end of 2012, which i thought was a deal at that time. i had a chance to buy the 2006/07 buffalo at $1400-$1450 several weeks ago, but due to my lack of confidence about the gold, i did not buy. u see, after several yrs, it is just about $50 more than spot.

    wrt the RF, have to buy a couple.

  24. Brad says

    Watch the highly anticipated 2013 “Reverse Proof” Buffalo sell 100,000+ coins, while the plain vanilla 2013 Proof Buffalo sells only 15,000 coins before quietly being declared “sold out.” Then, this new low-mintage proof king will be a $4,000+ coin, while the RP will sell for spot plus $50.

    Keep an eye on the same old, same old. It just might be the real winner.

  25. Erik H says

    IMO, the mint should just charge a fixed % of premium over daily spot. The problem with a fixed dollar amount (the current grid) is when you get into higher spot prices the % of premium diminishes (I think this is why the came up with a new grid). On the flip side, when spot prices fall the % premium rises. A fix % would be best. As spot goes up, profits go up but at least the % paid never changes.

    Last, U.S. MINT – BRING BACK FRACTIONAL BUFFALOS, PLEASE!!!

  26. Shutter says

    Back to WP ASE set for just a minute. Did anyone else notice that estimated ship date is now 8/30/13? It was 9/30/13 yesterday.

    As far as gold premiums are concerned, consider that the total price of WP ASE set sells for about a third of the markup on the Buffalo.

  27. VA Bob says

    I decided to wait on the proof Buff. Gold prices are in flux and trending down. Nothing worse than having to pay more than one has to. As for my two cents on the discussion, the production cost for a gold coin is no more than any other proof coin, sans the metal price. While the Mint might not be required to make anything more than coins for circulation, its collector programs don’t have to make a profit over the additional cost of providing these collector coins. I don’t mind the Mint making a little extra cash (although the monies earned probably pale in comparison to government waste), but what is a “fair” amount? 400 bucks seems a bit steep. How much money are we wasting storing presidential dollars? Things like this are what make me angry. I’m not looking for the taxpayer to subsidize my hobby, but in the same token my hobby shouldn’t have to subsidize inefficient, and often downright wasteful government spending either.

  28. A&L Futures says

    I could go on and on regarding “downright wasteful government spending,” but then I’d be at risk of losing my job.

  29. vaughnster says

    I just received my 5 oz. ATB White Mountain coin today and I have to say it is outstanding! It looks fantastic with not a blemish anywhere. I hope everyone else gets as nice a coin as I have. Let’s hope the Mint has the process down and we’ll hear no more horror stories :-)

  30. VABEACHBUM says

    @ vaughnster – Great News!! My coin ended up in the FexEx Hybrid delivery; not scheduled to arrive until Tuesday. At least I will have something to look forward to next week.

    Others have mentioned changes to the WP Set ship dates. The ship date for my Day 1 order has been updated from 7/11 to 6/17. Looks like the staff at WP is striking coins ’round the clock to meet the demand. I’d be interested to see if the date on the product page starts to drop down, too.

  31. Jus-a-coin-luvr says

    My White Mtn ATB 5oz’er came today too and is in perfect condition. The Mint’s email had a Fedex WB# that said it was due to be delivered Saturday. But then the coin arrived today via the US Mail. Is that Fedex delivery method connected to the US Mail somehow? That’s all I could figure…great coin though. :)

  32. joe says

    Not to get too far off in the weeds, but is there anyone here still touting the girl scout coin? When it originally came out, there were several that were adamant that it would be a good seller. I just saw the numbers and it’s pretty pathetic. Probably why the margin on the proof buffalo is so high…to carry the PC girl scout coin.

  33. Shutter says

    is there anyone here still touting the girl scout coin? When it originally came out, there were several that were adamant that it would be a good seller. I just saw the numbers and it’s pretty pathetic.

    Pathetic as they are, they are still outselling the other commemorative silver.

  34. Dustyroads says

    If someone can find an answer to why the US Mint applies higher premiums to their gold coins, I for one you like to know. I can only assume it’s a marketing strategy to relieve some of the burden from the shoulders of those who don’t have as much money who buy the Mints bread and butter offerings. I enjoyed buying gold last year, but am having to remind myself that gold coins are for the more endowed than I am at the moment. Will be waiting to ad to my collection for to time being.

  35. Dustyroads says

    Shutter, I haven’t bought a girl scout coin, nor am I much of a fan of them, but what is it that looks so bad about the coin to you?

  36. simon says

    The proof planchets have a special polished finish and by virtue of being individually processed are more expensive than standard bullion blanks.

  37. Ann says

    If the mint has to make their coins from US’s mined gold?
    Maybe their cost is higher than one might think.

  38. Mark in Florida says

    Last time I bought girl scout cookies the girl added an extra box that I didn’t order to my order and my wife paid for it thinking it was what I ordered so that’s the last time I buy anything from her!

  39. Dustyroads says

    Dave Harper is comparing the present gold market to the market of 1980. He’s watching May 31 for a drop, if that holds, he’s then watching for a drop a couple weeks into June. I don’t think dynamics are quite the same, to many differences!

  40. simon says

    Dusty – the bullion blanks are unprocessed with guaranteed content. The proofs however are “specially” polished planchets, and at times the polish forms part of the edges, the fields and the devices. This processing can add to coin cost. An analogy is processing of Si wafers for chips. The wafer blanks are dirt cheap. Once they polish the edges and the surfaces, the price of each wafer skyrockets and they put bar codes on the reverse of the wafer as an ID.

    Ann – good point

  41. Dustyroads says

    Don’t know Ann , but something to think about.

    So Dan, what you’re saying is that a girl scout played you?

  42. Dustyroads says

    Simon, are you saying that the gold proofs are receiving a different treatment than silver?

  43. Ray says

    Interesting. i havent followed gold year round or regularly/daily/weekly etc until late last year. i have been watching stocks daily for close to a decade and quickly learned about the summer sell-off trends. i was wondering if there was something similar with gold before each summer? 1980 is kind of scary thinking about silver. pretty sure thats when it went from around $50 to $5. pretty sure thats for completely different reasons tho.

  44. Shutter says

    Shutter, I haven’t bought a girl scout coin, nor am I much of a fan of them, but what is it that looks so bad about the coin to you?
    Nothing. They aren’t the greatest of modern designs, but they are far from the worst. I was merely responding to someone else disparaging their sales, by pointing out that they are selling better than the generals.

  45. thePhelps says

    Shutter that really isn’t an apples to apples comparison – and there are a lot of factors in that. The GS has been selling for a couple months longer, and is only selling proof and uncirculated dollar coins. The Generals have Gold/Silver/Clad and that makes it harder to sell all of them – so some people pick a poison.

    As far as the dislike of the design… they had a lot of really good designs to choose from and took the weakest for the Obverse – just not very creative. The reverse looks like someone played with the computer and generated a graphic..whoopee. Sadly the people who review the coins – are in awe of the design and refer to it as the wave of the future of US coins. I normally buy proof and uncirculated commemoratives – but I made it a point to buy only the uncirculated of the GS set – because the Proofs will be much cheaper on the secondary market.

  46. joe says

    The Boy Scout coins were much more popular, and they are not doing great in the secondary markets last time I checked. Unfortunately, both the Unc and Proof Girl Scout coins have hit the sweet spot of irrelevance from a secondary market standpoint (coin is a PC joke with no demand, but numbers are too high for rarity). JMO.

  47. Shutter says

    Shutter that really isn’t an apples to apples comparison
    True enough. It’s a coin to coin comparison. Back in 2011, army silver proof outsold medal of honor, in spite being uglier of the two and having that ugly half to content with. I think each coin stands on its own and if coin A sells better than coin B, it’s a safe assumption that coin A is more popular.

  48. simon says

    Dusty – very likely for several reasons – related to material properties and value.

  49. VA Bob says

    A&L Futures – LOL yeah, I know what you mean.

    Ann – I don’t believe if the Mint is using US gold it has any bearing on their costs. Gold is a commodity. If that were the case, I believe we’d see it reflected in the bullion sales premiums to the distributers.

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