Buffalo Dollars

The 2001 Commemorative Buffalo Dollar

In 2001, a commemorative silver dollar was issued with the same design as the original buffalo nickel.  The issue was distributed to commemorate and raise funds for the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.  The coin was offered by the US mint in both uncirculated and proof conditions.  Although it is not rare among modern commemoratives, the coin sold out in only ten days. It quickly became one of the most valuable modern commemoratives, which attests to the popularity of the design.

The coin was designed by James Earle Fraser for the buffalo nickel that was first issued in 1913. More information about Fraser can be found on the Buffalo nickel page. The design is similar except for new locations for "In God we trust" and "e pluribus unum." This will seem like old hat to those familiar with the buffalo nickel, but the obverse portrait was a composite of Chief Iron Tail, a Sioux, Chief Two Moons, a Cheyenne, and a third unknown model (Fraser apparently often had trouble rmembering names). The buffalo on the reverse was an American bison modeled after “Black Diamond” from the New York Zoological Garden.