Fresh from the coin press, these .999 fine silver rounds are perfect for investments, protection against inflation and economic turmoil, collections, or gifts. Collectors will be happy to get their hands on a piece of silver that has achieved great popularity ever since it was debuted in 1981. And people receiving a silver Buffalo round as a gift will love the feature of James Earl Fraser's beautiful artwork.
The obverse of the medallion is Fraser's depiction of a native American, which has colloquially been dubbed as the “Indian Head”, and an inscription of the word “Liberty.” The actual native featured in the picture is... well nobody knows. Not even the artist. But several people acted like they knew. Even the artist. The first rendition of this coin was a United States nickel. The story goes like this: By 1931, Two Guns White Calf, son of the last Blackfoot tribal chief, was capitalizing off his claim to be the model for the coin. To try to put an end to the claim, Fraser wrote that he had used three “Indians” for the piece, including "Iron Tail, the best Indian head I can remember. The other one was Two Moons, the other I cannot recall." In 1938, Fraser stated that the three Indians had been "Iron Tail, a Sioux, Big Tree, a Kiowa, and Two Moons, a Cheyenne". Nevertheless, John Big Tree, a Seneca, claimed to be a model for Fraser's coin, and made many public appearances as the "nickel Indian" until his 1967 death at the age of 92 (though he sometimes alleged he was over 100 years of age). Big Tree was identified as the model for the nickel in wire service reports about his death, and he had appeared in that capacity at the Texas Numismatic Association convention in 1966. After Big Tree's death, the Mint stated that he most likely was not one of the models for the nickel. There have been other claimants: in 1964, Montana Senator Mike Mansfield wrote to Mint Director Eva B. Adams, inquiring if Sam Resurrection, a Choctaw was a model for the nickel. Adams wrote in reply, "According to our records, the portrait is a composite. There have been many claimants for this honor, all of whom are undoubtedly sincere in the belief that theirs is the one that adorns the nickel."
The reverse of the medallion features a North American bison or “buffalo” along with the mint, purity, and weight designations. The actual buffalo used as a model was... well nobody knows. Not even the artist. But several people acted like they knew. Even the artist. According to Fraser, the animal that appears on the reverse is the American bison Black Diamond. In an interview published in the New York Herald on January 27, 1913, Fraser was quoted as saying that the animal, which he did not name, was a "typical and shaggy specimen" which he found at the Bronx Zoo. Fraser later wrote that the model "was not a plains buffalo, but none other than Black Diamond, the contrariest animal in the Bronx Zoo. I stood for hours... He refused point blank to permit me to get side views of him, and stubbornly showed his front face most of the time." However, Black Diamond was never at the Bronx Zoo, but instead lived at the Central Park Zoo until he was sold and slaughtered in 1915. Black Diamond's mounted head is still extant, and has been exhibited at coin conventions. The placement of Black Diamond's horns differs considerably from that of the animal on the nickel, leading to doubts that Black Diamond was Fraser's model. A Bronx Zoo employee suggested that the animal may have been Bronx, a bison who was for many years the herd leader at the zoo.
Despite all the uncertainty around the design of the medallion, one can be certain of its quality. Minted by professionals and IRA certified, this troy ounce of .999 fine silver is a piece of history you can't afford to overlook.
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