Gold American Eagle vs Gold Buffalo Coin

Gold American Eagle vs Gold American Buffalo: Is One A Better Buy?


Written by John Rothans

Apr 5, 2018

The Gold American Eagle Coin and Gold American Buffalo Coin are two of the most popular U.S. Mint gold coins in history. Both the proof and bullion versions feature patriotic renditions of American symbols, are minted at the West Point Mint, and carry historic significance. So how do the two differ and what’s the story behind these two iconic gold coins from the U.S. Mint? While the U.S. Mint also produces proof versions of both coins, we’ll compare and contrast the bullion versions of the Gold American Eagle and Gold American Buffalo. Get ready to learn more from America's Gold Authority®, U.S. Money Reserve!

Comparing the Gold American Eagle & Gold American Buffalo

Quick Look Comparison

Gold American Eagle Gold American Buffalo
Key Legislation Public Law 99-185 Public Law 109-145
First Year Minted 1986 2006
Minting Facility West Point West Point
Available Weights 1 oz., 1/2 oz., 1/4 oz., 1/10 oz. 1 oz.*
Karat/Fineness 22-karat / .9167 24-karat / .9999
Design (Obverse, Reverse) Lady Liberty, Eagles Native American, Buffalo
Designers Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Miley Tucker-Frost James Earle Fraser

*Note that in 2008, the U.S. Mint also produced four denominations of the Proof Gold American Buffalo Coin, but not the bullion version.

Gold American Eagle Coin

Gold American Eagle History

American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins were first minted in 1986, having first been authorized by Gold Bullion Act of 1985 (Public Law 99-185). Signed by President Ronald Reagan, this act required that the U.S. Mint begin production of a family of 22-karat gold bullion coins in one-half, one-quarter, and one-tenth denominations, and outlined everything from the coins' diameter to their design.

With the passing of the Gold Bullion Act and the production of the Gold American Eagle Coin, the U.S. finally joined the national gold coin business and began competing with the likes of the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf and South African Krugerrand.

Gold American Eagle Design

The Obverse Design – Liberty

The image on the front of the Gold American Eagle Coin was selected in 1986 but designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the early 1900s. Saint-Gaudens’ design was originally produced for the $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Gold Coin, minted between 1907 and 1933, and later resurrected for use on the family of American Eagle Bullion Coins.

At the center of the coin’s obverse design is Lady Liberty’s full-length figure, her face framed by windswept hair and stamped with a fearless gaze. Her stance is unwavering, as she raises a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left. The Capitol building sits in the left background.

2015 Gold American Eagle Coin, front 1 oz Gold American Eagle Coin, back
The Reverse Design – Eagles

The image on the back of the Gold American Eagle Coin was created in 1986 by American sculptor Miley Busiek (now known as Miley Tucker-Frost). She first came up with her design concept in 1980 after watching Ronald Reagan’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, reports Coin News Today.

The reverse side of the Gold American Eagle Coin features a family of bald eagles, with a male eagle flying above a nest and holding an olive branch in his talons. A female eagle sits in the nest, her wings protectively encircling two eaglets.

>>>Learn more about the design of the Gold American Eagle Coin.

Gold American Eagle Purity

Gold American Eagles are produced from gold mined in the United States—an important mandate outlined in the Gold Bullion Act of 1985. They are struck at the U.S. Mint at West Point, New York.

Gold American Eagles “use the durable 22-karat standard established for gold circulating coinage over 350 years ago. They contain their stated amount of pure gold, plus small amounts of alloy. This creates harder coins that resist scratching and marring, which can diminish resale [prospects],” says the U.S. Mint.

Each coin contains 1 troy ounce of gold at 22-karats (.9167). Gold American Eagle Bullion coins are available in 1 oz., 1/2 oz., 1/4 oz., and 1/10 oz. weights. Certified Proof Gold American Eagles are also available through U.S. Money Reserve, but only while inventory lasts.

Gold American Buffalo Coin

Gold American Buffalo History

Gold American Buffalo Coins were first released to the public in June 2006 under Public Law 109-145, also called the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005. Title II of this act announced the striking and issuing of $50 Gold American Buffalo bullion and proof coins. It stipulated that James Earle Fraser's designs for the “Buffalo Nickel” be used on the obverse and reverse of the coin.

The Presidential $1 Coin Act marked the first time in history that the U.S. Mint produced a .9999 pure 24-karat gold coin. In part, the coins were created to keep pace with 24-karat bullion options from other countries, like the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf and the Chinese Gold Panda.

>>>Learn more about the history of the Gold American Buffalo Coin.

Gold American Buffalo Design

The Obverse Design – Native American Portrait

The front of the Gold American Buffalo Coin features a right-facing portrait of a Native American, an inscription of the year minted, and the word “LIBERTY.” The portrait is said to honor “the legacy of our land’s first inhabitants,” writes the U.S. Mint.

The profile isn’t of one single man. Rather, it’s a composite of several Native American men, including Chief Two Moons of the Cheyenne and Chief Iron Tail of the Lakota Sioux.

1 oz. Gold American Buffalo 1 oz. Gold American Buffalo Coin, View of Back
The Reverse Design – Buffalo

The back of the coin features a left-facing buffalo standing atop a rock or mound. His presence is all-encompassing and powerful, as his head and tail seem to press against the edges of the coin.

According to the U.S. Mint, the Buffalo “recalls the pioneering spirit of the Nation’s westward expansion.”

Some believe that the buffalo is based on an American buffalo named Black Diamond who lived in New York’s Central Park Zoo and was considered to be the largest buffalo in captivity. The coin’s designer, James Earle Fraser, lived in New York for more than a decade.

Gold American Buffalo Purity

Like Gold American Eagles, Gold American Buffalos are produced from gold mined in the United States. They are also struck at the U.S. Mint at West Point, New York.

The Gold American Buffalo Coin contains 1 troy ounce of gold at 24-karats (.9999). It is considered one of the purest gold coins and the nation's first-ever 24-karat gold coin. It is only available in a 1 oz. weight. Certified Proof Gold American Buffalo Coins are also available through U.S. Money Reserve, while inventory lasts.

Where to Buy Popular U.S. Mint Gold Coins

Today, American Gold Bullion coins, like the American Eagle Gold Coin and the American Gold Buffalo Coin, are the only gold bullion coins whose weight, content and purity are guaranteed by the U.S. Mint, making this family of coins a popular choice for discerning gold owners. Neither is a better buy than the other. Both gold coins are easy to buy and sell, and are respected in precious metals markets around the world.

There have been points in time when both the Gold American Buffalo and Gold American Eagle were hard to come by. For instance, in November 2015 the U.S. Mint sold out of one of the fractional-sized 2015 American Gold Eagles, with no more to be struck. And the Gold American Buffalo? The U.S. Mint stopped production during the financial crisis of 2008, ran out of 1oz. bullion inventory in 2010, and sold out of their 1 oz. proof inventory in 2015. If you tried to purchase one of these coins during such a time, you probably couldn't. Make sure two of America's most important gold coins are part of your portfolio. Learn more about both online and call 1-844-307-1589 to make them yours today!


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