The White House issued a press release announcing that President George W. Bush signed the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005. This act will create a new series of numismatic collectibles and hopefully revive the circulating dollar coin. In my previous entry, I wrote about the Presidential $1 circulating commemorative coin and the corresponding First Spouse gold bullion coin. Today, I will write about Title II that authorizes the minting of a $50 bullion coin of 99.99 percent pure gold bought from at fair market value from US sources using the original design of the Buffalo Nickel by James Earle Fraser.

Fraser’s design has been a favorite of many. It is the only design that represents unique aspects of American history or culture. Unlike other circulating coins where the image was of Liberty wearing a headdress, Fraser created his design using real Native Americans as models. The reverse image is that of “Black Diamond” who was a popular resident of the Bronx Zoo. Fraser’s original design, known to collectors at the 1913 Type 1 variety, has the buffalo standing on a grassy mound. The Type 2 variety changed the design to a straight line because of wearing problems.

This law mandates the use of the Type 1 design. The law requires that the nominal value and the weight of the coin incused on the reverse. By making this area incused, the Mint will avoid any wearing issues that caused the original changes to Fraser’s design. While that may not be a problem with a bullion issue, is may allow the coin to better fit a proof set capsule.

But temper your excitement. The law allows the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee to change the design after the first year. Considering the popularity of the 2001 Buffalo Coin Commemorative, this design has the potential to make this a popular coin for those in the gold bullion market making it unlikely that the design will change. Unfortunately, given the rising price of gold and that the current $20 one-ounce bullion proof coin sells for over $700, a speculative price of this coin may make it too expensive for most collectors.

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