Revisiting the 2012-W Proof $50 Gold Buffalo

2012 Gold BuffaloThe 2012-W Proof $50 American Gold Buffalo seems to be emerging as yet another secondary market winner amongst US Mint 2012 numismatic products.

The coins originally went on sale March 15, 2012 and sold out on January 18, 2013. Although this was a fairly lengthy period of availability at about 10 months, it was still significantly shorter than the 19 months of availability for the 2011-dated release, which only concluded sales as part of the year end Last Opportunity Sale.

The 2012 Proof Gold Buffalo ended up with final reported sales of 19,765. This represented a decline of more than 30% compared to the previous year and significantly was only slightly above the low mintage established for the one ounce 2008 Proof.

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

When last available from the US Mint, the 2012 Proof Gold Buffalo carried a price of $1,960. A survey of the handful of recently completed eBay auctions shows prices of around $2,500 for coins in the original government packaging. Coins which have been certified in the top grades of PCGS PR70DCAM or NGC PF 70 Ultra Cameo have realized prices of around $2,900 to $3,000. There was one “Buy It Now” listing for an NGC PF 70 coin which seeeds to have been underpriced at $2,350 and was quickly scooped up.

The Gold Buffalo joins a growing list of other 2012 numismatic products which are driving strong premiums on secondary market channels. Other winners include the 2012-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle, the sold out 2012 annual sets, some of the earlier sold out 2012-S America the Beautiful Quarters Circulating Quality Rolls and 2012-P ATB Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins.

As discussed in previous posts, there has recently been a shift in the typical availability pattern for US Mint numismatic products. Whereas many 2010 and 2011 dated products had remained available for well in excess of one year, most of the 2012 products have been available for a much shorter duration. Whether or not the shift was intentional, the US Mint basically went from overproducing their numismatic offerings and leaving them on sale forever to under producing their products and having them sell out early.

The early sell outs have been intriguing to witness and cover a range of situations. The 2012-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle had sold out in early November, which seemingly would have been enough time for another production run instead of concluding sales. The circulating quality 2012-S America the Beautiful Quarter Rolls had a specific indication on the product pages that they would remain available for sale for one year from the initial release date. Instead, in the most extreme case the Denali 100-coin bags sold out after less than two months. The 2012-P ATB Five Ounce Silver Coins carried a specific maximum mintage of 25,000 units per design, but some designs started to sell out after sales approached only 15,000 units. Finally, after seeing annual sets remain available for upwards of two years, the core 2012 sets sold out after availability ranging from six to seven months.

After a big string of unexpected sell outs and secondary market winners, we may see collectors respond by ordering the 2013 products earlier and more heavily. Such a boost in sales would lead to higher mintages which would serve to solidify the status of the 2012 winners.

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  1. TMMSR0127 says

    I am curious as to whether the FS coins will sell out at mintages lower than last year’s. While it would not seem possible that mintages could come in lower than last year’s historic lows, I would not be surprised – based on the mints recent sellouts.

  2. Hidalgo says

    One should buy coins because he/she likes them, rather than try to make a profit. There are just too too many variables to determine which coins will be secondary market winners, and which ones will be secondary market losers. Mintage/sales numbers alone do not determine which coins will increase in value in the future.

    Typically, unexpected sell outs generate strong demand and thus, higher secondary market prices since sellers do not have time to build up a supply/.inventory of the collectible.

    I have no regrets passing over the purchase of the 2012 W $50 proof gold buffalo. An increase of about $500 – $600 over the original sales prices is a relatively small percentage increase. There are some other coins that have performed much better, e.g., the 2012 P Hawaii P 5 ounce coin, which has doubled in price.

  3. joe says

    Hidalgo said: “One should buy coins because he/she likes them, rather than try to make a profit.”

    While I understand the spirit of what you are saying, I think it’s okay to try and make a profit. You are correct that there are many variables, but the same goes for the stock market and other investments. PMs are a slightly different animal than clad, but I believe PMs (in general) will do well based on the systematic debasement of our currency.

  4. Samuel says

    the most recent sale in OGP is $2475. the ebay fee is about $250. the sell gets about $300.

  5. Rick says

    Be careful or you may get an earful on how great the economy has improved(profiteering in stock market), or who will be the next prez. Sorry H, but that’s what I think of when I see your name.

  6. hi ho silver says

    Than in 2012…… was a very good year !….. a very good year, for seeing it sold !….Im talking bout gold !!! hahah just call me ol blue eyes.

  7. Dustyroads says

    The Mint did in no uncertain terms stir up some enthusiasm during and after last year. I think though for myself I will do my best to keep my guns close to my side and try to read what consumers are doing. Reading what Michael writes, it’s clear to see that he has a good sense of what’s happening. I would be interested in knowing if he has an affiliation with the US Mint.

  8. hi ho silver says

    Me either Dusty. Look what happened to the proof Buffalo in 09! The Balt coin show was nice , but dealers were selling like spot silver is still above $30 oz, but would remind me where it was when I offered my 2011 set for sale to them.

  9. Tom says

    I think the 1/2 proof is the real winner for 2012.
    at 12,919 minted its the lowest ever for all the proofs.

    (It even comes pretty close to the 11,455 for the 1/2 07 W ms).

    The previous low mintage for the proofs was 18,877 for the 08 1/4 oz.
    and 22,602 for the next rarest 1/2 oz proof.

  10. Louis says

    Tom- I agree, but it may take a while to see the premium.

    Hidalgo- If some people were not buying with at least some thought given to what will increase in value, the coin market would be a fraction of what it is, and it would mean lower values for everything. Different people have different goals and motivations. That’s what makes the world go round.

    Like most people I buy some things strictly because I like them and have little concern for their value, but I personally don’t like to waste money and keep making the same mistakes, so I change my habits when I see certain things continue to lose value.

  11. Mark in Florida says

    The better dealers work on a 3% or so markup. If Ebay charges 10% I’d rather sell to a dealer.

  12. Kevin says

    Don’t leave out the 2012 W burnished silver eagle which has sold on eBay for over $200 graded pcgs 70.

  13. says

    @ Samual….the ebay fee on a “buy it now” for $2475 would only be $92.

    The fee would be 2% over $1000 (1475 X .02 = $29.50) plus $62.50….11% of the first $50 =$5.50 plus 6% of $950 =$57.

    If the listing was an auction and not a buy it now listing the fee would be 9% with a max of $200.

    It pays to know the ebay seller fees when you sell someting.

  14. Chuck says

    From a pure buy and sell perspective the Hawaii P ATB would be hands down the better move. Originally sold for $205 at the MInt the price moved to $230 prior to sellout and then was available for $300 for awhile at a certain dealer, all of which would have resulted in a tidy profit in light of consistent sales on ebay at $500+ raw w/ogp. A far better profit percentage wise than the Buffalo.

  15. Samuel says

    Steve, thanks for the clarification. so the BIN is cheaper for a seller. the max is increased to $250.

  16. Louis says

    @Hidalgo- Also the Hawaii coin has tripled, not doubled in price. Even the bullion coin has doubled in price. What is it about people making money from coins that bothers you so much? Why are you so intent on convincing people what they should do with their money? Why do you even care?

  17. Louis says

    @Mark- You are right. In many cases if you are dealing with an honest dealer, that may be better than e-Bay. It depends on what it is. When I got $1500 for two unopened 25th ASE sets, that was way better than e-Bay.

  18. Hidalgo says

    @Louis – I am voicing my opinion. I am not dictating to anyone (as if anyone would listen to you or me…. LOL)

  19. joe says

    Personally, I collect clad for fun and don’t expect much profit since I’m not knowledgeable enough, have time enough, or am lucky to pick the right coins.

    PM coins are another animal altogether. I collect those because (to me) they are beautiful to look at, have intrinsic value as PMs, and also have a potential to increase due to rarity. To the subject of this article, the American Gold Buffalo coin is probably my favorite coin ever produced by the US Mint (old or new). The combination of the gold metal with the beautiful obverse and reverse images is fantastic to me. A close second is/was the UHR. My daughter likes silver coins better for the same reasons mentioned above plus it is more affordable.

    But in both instances, we would like our investment (and it is an investment) to increase over time.

  20. stephen m says

    Isn’t the US and this blog great or what! and coins and coin collectors. I served my country so everyone can voice what they think. This healthy blog is a good reminder of that.

  21. george glazener says


    Thank you for your service..!! We appreciate it more than you know..!!
    What do you think of the upcoming 5-Star Generals series?

  22. says

    @Dimitriy….yeah, they did up the max from $200 to $250 on an auction….however my calculation of a FVF of $92 on a $2475 buffalo coin is correct for a fixed price auction.
    Had they done an auction, the fee would of been $222.75.

    And that is the whole point I was making….you can save a lot by selling high prices items with a fixed price.

  23. T1 browserman says

    This is a post of the American Buffalo revisited.

    I unloaded all my Buffs (except 2008 4 coin) for sheer boredom.

    The mint has the legal right to revise the designs….when ?? after 20 years of the same obv./rev. ???

    I don’t know—————>third base

  24. hi ho silver says

    When you get bored of that 2008 let me know. Ill give you what you paid for it. LOL

  25. stephen m says

    george g, i really don’t think much of the 5-star general coins. While i’m sure the rank means a 5-star is a great accomplisment and they may be, or have been, great leaders but the series are just more coins that will be a passion for someone to collect but i think would decrease in value before they would increase in value. I do have a UHR and a 2006 reverse proof in gold modern coin and would love to have and admire a gold buffalo.

  26. hi ho silver says

    OT: I got a year set of clad S Mint UNC 2012 Quater from ebay for $4.70 … what’s the bottem line ?

  27. stephen m says

    Hi, hi ho silver. US ARMY, june 70-feb 72 about 20 months of the best times of my life. Did you say you are in the coast guard?

  28. hi ho silver says

    Navy ! We drove all you guys where you needed to go!! My best to you and worried spouce. (If you have one)

  29. Tom says

    (And there are smaller Coast Guard vessels currently securing
    the immediate waters surrounding the larger Navy ships right now
    in the Persian Gulf).

  30. stephen m says

    Hi, hi ho, now that you mention Navy i can understand you better. Good luck on that 2008 buffalo.

  31. Samuel says

    Dmitriy, Steve,
    “Starting April 16,……Final value fees will be streamlined to just one competitive flat rate of 10%—regardless of how you sell…..”

  32. Tom says

    Ok I probably shouldn’t have said that,
    true the ’12 w ms will probably be the rarest.
    too much for me though.

  33. merryxmasmrscrooge says

    Kevin said: “Don’t leave out the 2012 W burnished silver eagle which has sold on eBay for over $200 graded pcgs 70.”

    But you can still buy it in the uncirc. dollar set from the Mint website. There is good chance for 69 or 70 if you want to slab it. Check it out, per the sellout of the individual coin, sales of the set jumped from a few hundred to over 5,000 this week. On the other hand, uncirc. dollar set of 2008?? was available for 2 years, I think.

  34. george glazener says

    Perry’s victory? Ach, ye bleedin’ Yankee..!!
    He dinna stand a chance agin the might of the British Navy…!! Just ye wait until “Lucky Jack” Aubrey spills ‘is sails and fires a broadside o’ 25 pounders agin yer Yankee tubs. Oliver Hazard Perry and his band of rouges and thieves will be singin’ a differen’ tune at the bottom o’ Lake Erie if he dinna mind whar he wanders….

  35. Kevin says

    If you buy the uncirculated dollar set and would like to send into pcgs as a first strike choice then I believe the label would have to included something about it being in this set. Please correct me if I am wrong but the only way you would be able to get first strike and a label just saying 2012 w silver eagle is if you never opened the box from the is mint.

  36. hi ho silver says

    Kevin I don’t think either offering is graded first strike anymore.You are talkng 2012 right?

  37. Kevin says

    Yes 2012 W silver eagle burnished. I have heard before that pcgs will grade coins as first strike as long as the box is unopened from the us mint. That box is the shipping box which not the original government packaging. Please if anyone has any knowledge about this please let me know thanks

  38. Brad says


    I didn’t read all of that “spring seller update” from eBay the other day, but I see you’re right about the 10% fee starting April 16th. That seems to apply to sellers like me, who don’t have a monthly “stores” subscription. I had sold several expensive coins in recent weeks under the “fixed-price” format, to get the much cheaper FVF that way. It seems that method won’t work for me anymore when the new fee goes into effect. I don’t sell enough on there to make having a stores subscription to get lower fees viable.

    The last time I sold some coins (10 ATB 5 oz P Denali’s, Lucy Hayes FS Unc and Lucretia Garfield FS Unc), it was directly to APMEX who paid me by check. The price I received from them was less in some cases than what I could have realized for the same coins on eBay, but after nixing the final value fee and PayPal fee from the equation, I came out much better off.

    It seems eBay is hell-bent on “killing the golden goose” with all of their fee hikes.

  39. KEITHSTER says

    I think it’s only dated boxes that fall within the correct dates for first strike status.As some unopened boxes come without dates on them I don’t think they could be given that status unless by the other numbers on the unopened box they can tell the shipping date? All depends when you got them. Good luck with those*^*

  40. Dan in Fla says

    I thought that PCGS would verify the dates inside the package to determine when ordered and shipped.

  41. KEITHSTER says

    Sounds like a better plan as I never had any graded. Might have to join thou as Ihave many still in the box. don’t own any slabs old school ya know OGP all the way.Figure you can’t change a coin by slabin it. It is what it is but looks like you change the price of it so why not? Good luck with them*^*

  42. joe says

    The primary reason I purchase slabbed coins is that a third party has evaluated it (instead of just the seller) to provide a recommendation on its quality. I’ve been hosed once too many times purchasing coins that are in OGP. Never again…

  43. KEITHSTER says

    Sorry to here that I ALWAYS get my OGP from the OGSeller the Mint or in person at a show or shop or sale or from people I know.One should look the coin over good in person and should know about what it will grade out at.A collecter should always take the time to learn that.Because people love to mess with ya and will.Never bought any sight unseen but understand some people have to. To them buyer beware even the mint send out dud’s but those I tend to see as rare coins as anyone has the chance at a good one*^* GOOD LOOK WITH THAT BEFORE BUY*^*

  44. VA Bob says

    I wonder how wide spread the ‘faking’ of mint sealed boxes is. IMO it would not be difficult to do. Personally, I would never buy a sealed mint box from a third party, seems a bit risky. I do understand the attraction to a sealed box, everyone likes surprises, problem is not all surprises are good. Kind of reminds me of the ‘unsearched’ rolls scams. There are plenty of stories about those. No, that box is opened the minute I get it from the Mint, the way it is. If it’s a 70 now it will be one years from now as long as I store it properly.

  45. Jack says

    @VA Bob I don’t think its very easy to fake a sealed box, as long as they show a picture of the corners of the box and the shipping label (even if the name and address is blacked out) I don’t know how they could fake it. On all of the ones delivered by UPS, the shipping date is shown on the bottom left of the label, and most listings you are able to see this. Some also show a printout of the mint order page, with the tracking number and items included on it. You can then match the tracking number to the one on the label and be 100% sure of what’s in there.

  46. hi ho silver says

    Jack: Who’s to say they didn’t take a picture THEN open the box ? Some of this stuff comes in flimsy outer packaging.

  47. hi ho silver says

    I have to agree with joe. How do you know till you get it in hand ? And like VABob I have also seen uncearched wheat rolls with mercury dimes on both ends….LOL think about it. Not saying all ebay sellers are bad, but they are out there.

  48. Brad says


    They might try to fake the sealed box if they opened it and discovered that the coin(s) inside were less than ideal. They then reseal the box to sell it as supposedly “unsearched.” That way if the buyer complains about the not-so-great coin inside they could say they didn’t know about it. I’m sure this seedy practice does happen in some cases. However, an undetectable re-seal would be very tough to do. My guess is they must steam the tape off or something. It would be impossible to peel the tape off (no matter how gently they might try) without leaving scars on the box. Those scars would be visible under the new tape.

    I’ve sold sealed boxes on eBay before, but mine have always been genuine. In recent weeks I’ve sold two Lucretia Garfield Unc coins in sealed boxes, and the buyer (the same one both times, actually) has always been happy with them. Heck, I might sell him the other two I have as well, before the eBay fee goes up!

    If you buy any sealed boxes on eBay, your best bet is to stick to well-established sellers with excellent feedback records, preferably those with recent feedback for the same item or type of items you’re considering buying from them. Sellers who recently registered with low or no feedback could be a scammer looking to make a quick dishonest buck, so proceed with extreme caution in those cases. The prices those auctions realize may appear attractive, but there’s definitely a reason for that.

  49. hi ho silver says

    Also if you complain to ebay, the seller has a pic of the box before he tampered with it. Your word against his , and he has a pic.

  50. Jack says

    Yeah your right, they could take a pic before they open, then open it with a razor blade and retape it. How often that happens I do not know. But it would be very easy to tell if the box has been tampered with, because I have reused some of the boxes I have gotten from the mint for shipping items (if they are in good enough condition) and I am able to get the tape and label off without ripping too deep into the box, but your right, even the most careful tape/label removal will still be able to be detected. I would think a bigger problem would be somebody that can get their hands on boxes from the same company that the mint gets them from, and making their own “sealed” box. The hardest part would be the label.

  51. hi ho silver says

    JACK : I figure you to be a flipper, but just pay special attn. To an ebay offering. I got a Jefferson 1st coin in a OGP …. also got a 2011 ann. They were in 2 different shipping boxes from the US Mint.

  52. Jack says

    Wait, do you mean the seller went to the mint website and had them shipped directly to you?

  53. hi ho silver says

    No , my 1st spouse came in a tamper proof box but my 25th sets came in a flimsy box with one strip of tape holding it together.

  54. Ray says

    Ebay will always side with the buyer. Even if the seller has pics of the sealed box. Ive worked in the art world for 15 years and watched Ebay progressively and almost absolutely favor the buyers during the claim and complaint processes. Ive never o bought or sold coins anywhere. Just art. And every single time Ebay will side with the buyer.

  55. hi ho silver says

    ebay does side with buyers, but it is a long wait. I purchased something and after 15 days it didn’t ship, the site told me I coild file a complaint in 2 weeks ,so I did after about a month after that I filed again, and the item shipped that day. Very long process to go through. After a month I just wanted my money back but it didn’t happen.

  56. VA Bob says

    Yeah, I was thinking about a complete faking of the box, label, and invoice. If there are people that can make a decent counterfit bill, then a few paper items probably wouldn’t be that difficult. It’s probably something the Mint should look at, but I’m not so sure it’s a concern for them. Imagine someone buying a sealed box of 5 25th anni ASE’s then finding out they are Chinese fakes in recycled OGP. That would not be very amusing.

  57. Scott D says

    Buying “unopened boxes” on eBay has an additional risk:
    I started buying the ATB coins in 2011 IIRC. One of the coins I needed NP2, yellowstone, which was slightly difficult to find, I found on EBay in an “unopened box”. The seller shipped it to me inside another box, but shipped me the wrong coin. He wrote a little comment on the box “yosemite”, which indicated I probaby had the wrong coin.

    So… after paying a premium for the unopened box which coin did I have? Who loses if you open the box to determine what’s inside? In this case the seller and I were both sure it was the wrong coin, and he was willing to take back the unopened box in exchange for the coin I ordered (which he still had, fortunately). No harm, no foul in this case, but I can imagine about 5 other scenarios that wouldn’t have worked out as well.

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