September 5, 2001
U.S. Mint Warns Public of Unofficial Reproductions of American Buffalo
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The United States Mint has received numerous inquiries regarding replicas of
the new American Buffalo Commemorative Silver Dollar now flooding the numismatic
and collectors markets. The replicas are not authentic U.S. coins and are not
sponsored or endorsed by the United States Government. You may be entitled to a
refund or redress from the firm that sold the replica to you if you bought one
of them, believing that you were purchasing a genuine U.S. Mint product.
The majority of current inquiries appears to stem from advertisements by the
National Collectorís Mint, Inc., a private mint hosting a mail drop in
Washington, DC. Consumers should know that the National Collectorís Mint, Inc.
is a private mint not affiliated with the United States Mint. Its replica
products are not authentic United States coins and are not sponsored or endorsed
by the United States Mint.
Because the images on the American Buffalo Commemorative Silver Dollar design
are not protected by copyright, these designs are susceptible to copying by
private mints. Barring violations of U.S. counterfeiting and trademark laws,
existing law does not prohibit reproduction of those U.S. coinage designs that
fall in the public domain.
There is significant confusion stemming from the reproductions. In one
instance, a U.S. Mint customer returned an authentic U.S. Mint Commemorative
Silver Dollar for refund, claiming that the authentic U.S. Mint coin is grossly
overpriced, mistakenly pointing out that the National Collectorís Mint is
selling the "same" item for $9.95. Apparently, the advertisement for
the replica was confusing and led the customer to believe that the product was a
genuine U.S. Mint legal tender coin, rather than a cheap imitation.
If you are unsure whether the product you have purchased from a private mint
is an authentic U.S. Mint American Buffalo Commemorative Silver Dollar, you
should note that the authentic coin features the year (2001) and artistís
initial ("F" for "Fraser") on the obverse and the
denomination (One Dollar) and mintmark ("P" for
"Philadelphia") on the reverse. An image of the authentic American
Buffalo Commemorative Silver Dollar can be found at the United States Mintís
If you believe that you were unfairly treated, you are entitled to contact
the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Hotline at 1-877-FTC-HELP or file a
consumer complaint online at http://www.ftc.gov/consumer.
Contact: Michael White (202) 354-7222, U.S. Mint