The American Buffalo, also known as a Gold Buffalo, is a 24-karat gold bullion coin first offered for sale by the United States Mint on June 22, 2006, and available for shipment beginning on July 13. This was the first time ever that the United States Government has minted pure (.9999) 24-karat gold coins for the public. The coin has a legal tender (face) value of US$50. The initial 2006 price of the proof coin was $800. The price of the 2007 proof coin was $899.95.
In addition to requiring a presidential dollar coin series to begin in 2007 and redesigning the cent in 2009, the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 mandated the production of a one-ounce 24-karat gold bullion coin with a face value of $50, and a mintage limit of up to 300,000 coins.
The design of the American Buffalo gold bullion coin is a modified version of James Earle Fraser's design for the Indian Head nickel, issued in early 1913. After a raised mound of dirt below the animal on the reverse was reduced, the Type 2 variation continued to be minted for the rest of 1913 and every year until 1938, except for 1922, 1932, and 1933 when no nickels were struck. Generally, Fraser's Indian Head nickel design is regarded as among the best designs of any U.S. coins. The same design also was used on the 2001 Smithsonian commemorative coin.