- Posted in: Gold Bullion
Ingrained in the very culture of the American West, the American Bison, more commonly known as the Buffalo; has recently been given the distinction of becoming the United States’ National Mammal. While the new title doesn’t affect any legislation or enforcement of any kind: the symbolic title adds more distinction to the role of the Buffalo in American culture.
Why would a precious metals company be interested in such a fascinating tid-bit? Well, the American Bison is featured on one of the most iconic pieces of numismatic history!
First released in 1913, the Buffalo Nickel helped bring American currency into the modern are, replacing the Liberty Head “V” nickel, which had a 30 year run and had replaced the rather drab shield nickel. Utterly unique to America’s previous design portfolio, the Buffalo Nickel took a page at of the saga of the American West, and incorporated artistic elements never before explored by the United States Mint.
Designed by sculptor James Earle Fraser, the front of the coin shows the striking profile of an American Indian and was created using several models to create the characteristic visage. On the back is the design featuring the coin’s namesake: the buffalo. Shown facing left, the American bison was rendered from the actual profile of resident buffalo, Black Diamond, of the Central Park Zoo. Rather shy, the Fraser commented that he “stood for hours… [but] He refused point blank to permit me to get side views of him, and stubbornly showed his front face most of the time.”
Discontinued in 1938, the beloved design has since been resurrected: first with the 2001 Silver Buffalo Commemorative and then with the start of the first ever 24-karat gold bullion coin series which began in 2006.
Now that the Buffalo has the become even more synonymous with the United States, thanks to President Barack Obama signing the National Bison Legacy Act on May 9th: making the Buffalo the National Mammal of our great nation.