Coin Specifications

Category: Modern Commemoratives (1982-Date)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 272,869
Obverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
Reverse Designer: James Earle Fraser
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 26.7300g
ASW: 0.7734oz
Melt Value: $13.21 (11/21/2017)
Diameter: 38.1mm
Edge: Reeded
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2001 P BUFFALO S$1 PF obverse 2001 P BUFFALO S$1 PF reverse

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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: 11/2/2016

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

2001 P BUFFALO S$1 PF Ultra Cameo
Base $ - - - - - - - - - 105 110 120 125 128 140 145 150 155 185 550

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Total Graded: 16560
Low Grade: 62
Average Grade: 69
High Grade: 70

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
9/13/2004 PCGS PF 69   Ultra Cameo Heritage Auctions 2004 September Long Beach Bullet Sale #356, 356/Lot# 2633 $158.70
10/4/2006 PCGS PF 69   Ultra Cameo Teletrade Auction 2269, 2269/Lot# 1490 $268.80
5/27/2007 PCGS PF 68   Ultra Cameo Goldberg May 27-30, 2007 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 41/Lot# 640 $230.00
5/3/2010 NGC PF 70   Ultra Cameo Stack's Bowers The May 2010 Online Auction, 54/Lot# 679 $368.00
1/30/2011 NGC PF 70   Ultra Cameo Teletrade Auction 3004, 3004/Lot# 2234 $460.00
9/15/2013 PCGS PF 69   Ultra Cameo GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 09/15/2013, 92/Lot# 56079 $181.50
12/14/2014 NGC PF 69   Ultra Cameo David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 834, 843/Lot# 763 $180.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 2001 P S$1 PF BUFFALO Cameo
2001 P S$1 PF BUFFALO Ultra Cameo
Registry Image Gallery
Points: 1206
Owner: aerovac1
Grade: PF 70 UC
Points: 1206
Owner: Beijim
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