Coin Specifications

Category: Modern Commemoratives (1982-Date)
Mint: Denver
Mintage: 227,131
Catalog: KM-325
Obverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
Reverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 26.73g
ASW: 0.7734oz
Melt Value: $10.94 (11/27/2015)
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

2001 D BUFFALO S$1 MS obverse 2001 D BUFFALO S$1 MS reverse

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There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

This issue came about as the result of a several-years-long campaign by Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. In 1992 he began urging the re-introduction of the Indian Head/Buffalo Nickel, a coin designed by James Earle Fraser and minted for general circulation from 1913 to 1938. Envisioning a silver edition of the nickel for sale to collectors, the senator’s goal was to raise funds for America’s National Parks. When this legislation failed to pass, the nickel provision was revised to make the coin a silver dollar. Ultimately, such a law did get approved on October 27, 2000. By now, however, the funds raised from sales of this coin were to be directed toward the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC to support its ongoing educational activities.

The law provided for the coining of up to 500,000 pieces, a figure that had long since become standard for silver dollar commemoratives. No previous issue in recent years had even come close to such sales, so it was considered a safe limit, and no further thought was given to the matter at the time. Subsequent events, however, would call this number into question.

Though the law specified that the design for this coin would simply utilize that created by James Earle Fraser for the nickel in 1913, some modifications were required. The denomination was changed to read “ONE DOLLAR,” and the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST,” lacking on the circulating nickel, was added to comply with current law. Finally, the date was changed to 2001.

No U. S. Mint artist is credited with these revisions, and only Fraser’s initial ‘F’ is seen on the coin. The models, however, were clearly just based on Fraser’s design and are not a faithful rendering of it. The coin is in lower relief than the nickel, and, even more distressing, the bison’s legs were shortened to accommodate the additional motto above it. Lacking any further inscriptions beyond those mandated by law, this is a coin which evidently commemorates nothing in particular, except perhaps the popularity of Fraser’s Buffalo Nickel design.

Uncirculated examples were struck at the Denver Mint, with Philadelphia furnishing the proofs. A distinctive feature of the American Buffalo Silver Dollars is that their mintmarks are incused, rather than raised as on most United States coins.

Despite its shortcomings as both a piece of art and a legitimate commemorative, the American Buffalo Silver Dollar was an instant hit with collectors. The proof and uncirculated editions both sold out within two weeks of the June 7, 2001 opening date. The normal ratio between proof and uncirculated sales was completely destroyed, as collectors scrambled to get as many coins as they could, leaving their totals almost evenly divided. Contributing to this frenzy was the Mint’s offering of a “Coin and Currency Set,” which included (in addition to the uncirculated Buffalo Dollar) a reproduction of the popular Series 1899 $5 silver certificate and two U. S. postage stamps, all three featuring engraved portraits of Indians.

So great was the demand for this silver dollar in 2001 that some consideration was given to authorizing additional pieces that would bear some distinctive mark to protect the value of the original edition. In a rare display of prudence, Congress ultimately nixed this idea.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 1/5/2015

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Base $ - - - - - - - - - 110 115 120 130 142 145 155 160 180 415

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Total Graded: 14569
Low Grade: 64
Average Grade: 69
High Grade: 70

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
9/23/2007 PCGS MS 69   Goldberg September 23-26, 2007 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 42/Lot# 1860 $207.00
4/7/2008 NGC MS 69   David Lawrence Rare Coins Monday - Internet Auction # 236, 242/Lot# 1362 $195.50
2/2/2009 PCGS MS 69   Teletrade Auction 2648, 2648/Lot# 1916 $50.00
2/12/2012 PCGS MS 70   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(2), 131208/Lot# 23591 $299.00
6/3/2012 PCGS MS 69   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131224/Lot# 24739 $126.50
6/17/2012 PCGS MS 70   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/17/2012, 27/Lot# 43301 $291.50
3/31/2015 NGC MS 70   Stack's Bowers March 2015 Baltimore, 6065/Lot# 33867 $340.75

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 2001 D BUFFALO S$1 MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 70
Points: 974
Owner: aerovac1
Grade: MS 70
Points: 974
Owner: amarillo
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