Neil S Berman - Expert Numismatist & Gold Coin Dealer
Gold Coins Trade through History
American $50.00 Gold Buffalos
American $50.00 Gold Buffalos. Made by the United States Mint since 2005 out of 24-karat gold, and are now more popular than the Eagles. The Buffalo coin’s obverse and reverse designs feature images originally prepared by noted American sculptor James Earle Fraser, once a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, for America’s five cent coin. That popular coin, known as the Indian Head, or Buffalo Nickel was first made as a nickel in 1913.
The Native American depiction on the coins obverse is believed to be based on three different American Indians. Two of the American Indians who modeled for Fraser as he sculpted the coin were named by the designer before his death. They were known as Chief Iron Tail of the Lakota Sioux and Chief Two Moons of the Cheyenne. Although many have claimed to have had a sitting with Fraser for this design, he could not recall the name of the third person and satisfactory documentation has not yet been found to identify that individual.
It is widely believed that the bison on the coins reverse was modeled after Black Diamond, a popular attraction at the New York Zoological Gardens. In the first year of the coin’s issuance, there were two distinct varieties, the first showing the bison on a mound and the second with the base redesigned to a thinner, straight line. The Buffalo Gold Coins bear the original Fraser Type One design.