If you’re looking for a way to diversify your investments, start a unique and valuable collection, or give a gift with both patriotic and historical significance, look no further than the Buffalo Gold and American Eagle Gold coins. Minted exclusively by the U.S. Mint at West Point, these coins are not only legal tender in the United States, but are a stunningly beautiful way to invest in precious metals.
The American Gold Eagle is a 22-carat gold bullion coin introduced in 1986 upon authorization by the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985. The coin’s obverse side displays Lady Liberty with flowing hair, a torch in one hand, and an olive branch in the other. The design by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a prominent nineteenth-century American sculptor. The obverse also has the word “LIBERTY” inscribed across the top as well as the year of minting below. The reverse side contains the inscriptions “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” and “IN GOD WE TRUST,” as well as the coin’s weight and face value. It features both a male and female eagle in a design by Miley Busiek (now Miley Tucker-Frost), a self-taught contemporary sculptor who focuses on patriotic, classical, and religious themes.
The Buffalo Gold coin is a 24-carat gold bullion coin first introduced in 2006 under authorization from the Presidential 41 Coin Act of 2005 (Title II, Section 201). The coin is modeled after the popular “Indian Head” or “Buffalo Nickel” minted from 1913 to 1938, designed by James Earle Fraser, the iconic early twentieth-century American sculptor. The obverse side features the profile of a Native American man Earle modeled after three prominent Native American chiefs: Big Tree (Kiowa Tribe), Iron Tail (Oglala Lakota Tribe), and Two Months (Cheyenne Tribe). The coin also displays the inscriptions “LIBERTY” and the year of minting. The reverse side shows the silhouette of an American bison based on “Black Diamond,” a bison that was in the New York Zoological Gardens at the time of Earle’s design. Like the American Gold Eagle, the Gold Buffalo’s reverse side contains the inscriptions “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” and “IN GOD WE TRUST,” as well as the coin’s weight and face value.
Both coins are available in four sizes and face values:
Gold Maple Leaf vs Gold Buffalo
|Net fine weight||Face value (CAD)|
|1 troy ounce||$50.00|
|½ troy ounce||$25.00|
|¼ troy ounce||$10.00|
|1/10 troy ounce||$5.00|
Special “Proof” versions, or limited production coins minted at the highest quality possible, are available as well.
What Are the Differences?
The differences between the two coins stem from their makeup. The American Eagle at 22 carats is an alloy of 91.67% gold (standard for 22-carat gold), 3% silver, and 5.33% copper. Throughout the history of precious metal coins, 22-carat coins were found to be the most suitable for use as legal tender given the alloy’s increased resilience, while 24-carat coins were typically found to be too soft for regular use. The Buffalo Gold coin is 24-carat gold or 99.99% gold and was instituted as a replacement for those collectors and investors who preferred a 24-carat bullion coin and had previously been purchasing foreign coins.
What Investors Need to Know
First, the coins do not sell for their face value but instead trade on the value of the metals in the coin. As such, the Buffalo Gold value is determined entirely by the gold price, whereas the American Eagle Gold value is mainly determined by the gold price but also affected by silver and copper prices. Current values for both coins are far above their respective face value, and the gold price has potentially more upside in the coming years.
Next, if you intend on using your gold coins as currency, as you will be able to do in Arizona as of August 2017, you’ll want to stick with American Eagles for their solidity. On the other hand, if you are looking solely for an investment, both coins hold their value nicely. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that both these coins qualify for placement in gold Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).
Where to Buy American Eagle Gold & Buffalo Gold Coins
The U.S. Mint does not sell gold bullion coins like the American Eagle and Gold Buffalo directly to the public. The Mint instead sells the coins to its network of Authorized Purchasers who meet certain strict criteria as “only the most well-established, industry-recognized, and sufficiently capitalized precious metal wholesalers/market-makers to aid in the primary distribution of its gold and or platinum bullion coin products.” 1 Luckily, we at Scottsdale Bullion & Coin are a U. S. Mint Authorized Purchaser.