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American Buffalo (Film) – Coin Collector Meets Tragic End

American Buffalo by David Mamet
American Buffalo by David Mamet

Hollywood and Broadway occasionally create works that center around numismatic MacGuffins, and collectors sometimes seek these out for entertainment. The film American Buffalo (1996) is one such work, based on a 1975 play written by Chicago-based playwright David Mamet. In it, a group of men plot the theft of a wealthy man’s coin collection.

The events of the story center around a Friday at Don’s Resale Shop, a junk shop located in downtown Chicago. After Don, the shop’s owner, sells a Buffalo nickel to a customer for $80, he begins to suspect that the coin may be much more valuable than he understood. He conspires with a group of friends to track the customer down and steal back the coin.

After much discussion and a bit of treachery, Don’s friend returns with a different Buffalo nickel, which he tries to pass off as the one that was sold earlier in the day.

Throughout the duration of the film, American Buffalo explores themes of alienation and greed, and paints an unflinching portrait of Chicago’s underbelly.

At the time of its initial run, the play was noted for its profanity-laced dialogue.

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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