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Gold Buffalo vs. Maple Leaf: Which is Better for Investors? 

Both coins are highly sought after, but their appeal may differ based on regional inclinations. Within the U.S., the Gold Buffalo may be more attractive due to its national resonance. However, on a global scale, the Gold Maple Leaf might take the lead because of its longstanding history and universal acclaim. 

To explore this question, we compared these gold coins using the following criterions purity, IRA eligibility, the mints, liquidity, market demand, total cost to own, and appearance. 

Gold Buffalo vs. Maple Leaf: Purity 

Currently, the Gold Buffalo and Maple Leaf are comprised of .9999 fine gold. The Gold Buffalo coin was the first 24-karat gold coin minted by the U.S. Mint. When introduced in 1979, the Maple Leaf consisted of .999 fine gold. In 1982, the Canadian Royal Mint began minting .9999 fine Gold Maple Leaf coins. The Canadian Royal Mint also released special issue coins boasting .99999 purity with a limited mintage. 

 Gold Buffalo Gold Maple Leaf 
Year Introduced 2006 1979 
Country of Origin United States Canada 
IRA Eligible Yes Yes 
Mint U.S. Mint Royal Canadian Mint 
Purity .9999 fine gold .9999 fine gold 
Weight 1 oz 1/20, 1/10, ¼, ½, and 1 oz 
Denominations $50 USD $1, $5, $10, $20, and $50 CAD 
1 oz Thickness 2.95 mm 2.80 mm 
1 oz Diameter 32.7 mm 30 mm 
Obverse Native American Queen Elizabeth II 
Reverse American Bison Maple Leaf 
Chart comparing the Gold Buffalo and the Maple Leaf.

Precious Metals IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) 

The Gold Buffalo and the Maple Leaf are composed of .9999 fine gold, making them IRA-eligible products as defined by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). This makes them both attractive options to diversify your portfolio to better prepare for retirement. With a precious metals IRA, you do not hold the gold yourself; instead, it is held by a custodian, so the coin’s appearance may not matter to you. In this case, it would make sense to fund your IRA with whatever is the most advantageous purchase. It may even make sense to hold a range of products in your IRA. 

The Mints 

The Royal Canadian Mint and the United States Mint are two of the most prominent mints in North America, responsible for producing circulation coins, bullion products, and numismatic items. Both mints have a storied history and have significantly contributed to numismatics and bullion markets.  

Depending on your preferences, you may prefer products from one mint over the other, but both are respected institutions in the coin and bullion world. 

What are they well-known for? 

  • The Royal Canadian Mint produced the first 5-ounce .9999 fine silver coin and minted .99999 fine gold Maple Leaf coins
  • The U.S Mint is known for introducing the American Eagle Bullion Program, which includes the American Gold Eagle and the Silver Eagle. 

Gold Buffalo vs. Maple Leaf: Liquidity 

Both coins are highly liquid due to their recognition and dependability. The Gold Maple Leaf has a longer history and broader recognition globally, while the Gold Buffalo is particularly popular in the U.S. 

Gold Buffalo 

As the first 24-karat gold bullion coin from the U.S. Mint, it is widely recognized both nationally and internationally. This high level of recognition makes it easy to buy and sell. Its standardized weight and purity make it trouble-free to appraise and trade. 

Gold Maple Leaf 

The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf is one of the most recognized gold coins globally, making it easy to buy or sell in many countries. Gold Maple Leafs are readily available from gold and bullion dealers around the world. Their standardized specifications make them straightforward for dealers to trade. 

Gold Buffalo vs. Maple Leaf: Market Demand 

While both coins enjoy strong demand, their popularity may vary based on the region. In the U.S., the Gold Buffalo may be slightly more in demand due to its national relevance. However, on a global scale, the Gold Maple Leaf, with its longer history and broad international recognition, might have an edge if you are looking to sell in non-U.S. markets. 

Gold Buffalo 

Due to its backing by the U.S. government and its gold content, weight, design, and purity, there’s consistent demand for the Gold Buffalo among investors and collectors. While the Gold Buffalo is popular, other coins, like the American Gold Eagle, might be more recognized by the general public, offering slightly higher demand in certain contexts. 

Gold Maple Leaf 

The coin’s purity, design, and backing by the Canadian government for its gold content, weight, and purity mean there’s consistently high demand for the Gold Maple Leaf among investors and collectors. While the Gold Maple Leaf is universally recognized, investors may encounter markets where other coins, like the American Gold Eagle or the South African Krugerrand, may be slightly more familiar to buyers. 

Total Cost to Own: Gold Spot Prices, Premiums, and Storage 

Historically, gold has held its value since it was first discovered. Price fluctuations are fairly predictable.  Generally, when the dollar weakens the demand for gold increases and drives up the price. Buying gold when price and premiums are high makes it more difficult to realize a profit when you sell. Another consideration is transportation and storage costs.  

When preparing to purchase a large volume of gold you will benefit from considering all associated costs.  

The price of Maple Leaf and the Buffalo coin are influenced by the current gold spot price, which is influenced by many factors. These factors include supply and demand, central bank’s activities, political events, economic indicators, and currency strength. Exchanges and dealers cannot control the spot price but can influence premiums.  

Premiums cover manufacturing, distribution, and dealer costs and profit. Dealers occasionally cut into their profits per coin by lowering premiums. They do this to entice larger buyers to place bulk orders, which is smart as it benefits the buyer and the dealer.  

That said, in many situations, premium prices are lower on Gold Maple Leafs. When we compared premiums from three large online dealers, the average price for Maple Leafs was $25.98 less than the Gold Buffalo for the one-ounce coin. $25.98 is only a 1.26% difference; however, this difference can add up quickly in a large purchase. For example, if you bought 1,000 coins at this rate, you would save $25,980. 

If you are holding your own gold, you need to consider shipping costs and insurance. If you are going to use a professional bullion storage facility to hold your gold, you will need to pay for transportation, insurance management, and storage costs. If you are buying from another country, there will be duty fees to consider. These all add to the total cost of owning your gold. 

Another factor that may influence what or who you buy from is exchange rates. Generally, gold bullion is priced in USD. If your home dollar is exchanged favorably for USD, you may be able to take advantage of the good exchange rate when buying gold. Of course, you must factor in additional costs to determine whether it is cost-effective. 

Which Coin is More Attractive? The Buffalo or the Maple Leaf? 

The American Gold Buffalo and the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf are globally respected and sought-after gold bullion coins. The attractiveness of each coin is subjective and varies depending on individual preferences, intended use, and investment goals. 

Gold Maple Leaf Design 

This gold coin features an image of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and Canada’s national symbol, the maple leaf, on the reverse. Future versions may feature King Charles III. 

Gold Buffalo Design 

This coin features a design based on James Earle Fraser’s iconic “Buffalo Nickel.” The obverse displays a Native American portrait, and the reverse depicts an American bison. 

Preferences may be Influenced by the Type of Buyer 

  • Collectors: The choice might come down to personal design preference. Some might prefer the classic American imagery of the Buffalo, while others might gravitate towards the clean, nationalistic design of the Maple Leaf. 
  • Investors: Both coins are highly liquid and are easily recognized and accepted by dealers worldwide. The decision might come down to premiums, with the Maple Leaf typically being slightly more affordable than the Buffalo. However, this can vary based on market conditions. 
  • Diversifiers: Those looking to diversify their gold holdings may want both in their portfolio. 

Gold Buffalo vs. Maple Leaf Summarized 

Both coins have a hardy demand, but regional preferences can influence their popularity. In the U.S., the Gold Buffalo might have a slight edge owing to its domestic significance. Yet, globally, the Gold Maple Leaf could lead in demand due to its extended history and widespread recognition. 

Factors Considered How They Compare 
Purity Tie 
IRAs Tie 
Mint Tie 
Liquidity Maple Leaf has a slight advantage globally. 
Demand U.S.: Buffalo, Global: Maple 
Total Cost to Own Maple Leaf Lower (may fluctuate) 
Appearance Subjective 
Chart showing how factors of the Gold Buffalo and Maple Leaf compare. 

Market dynamics, world events, and shifts in investor mood can sway demand for either coin. Keeping an eye on market movements, dealer stock, and international occurrences is crucial to understanding the current demand for these coins. 

Investment decisions should be made based on individual financial objectives, risk tolerance, and market conditions. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Always consult with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions. 

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