The Three Dollar Gold Coin

The Three Dollar Gold Coins were an unusual denomination minted from 1854 up until 1889. It was created after the regular price for 100 postage stamps sheets was reduced from $5 to $3. The designer of the coin was James Longacre, Chief Engraver at the US Mint.

The US Mint and Congress were quite confident that the public would welcome this gold coin with open arms, but things didn’t go as planned. The public rejected the Three Dollar Gold Coin, and because of the very low demand, it was reported that only less than half a million were produced from all US Mints combined.

The History of the Three Dollar Gold Coin

In the year 1853, the United States made a settlement dispute with Mexico to acquire a massive portion of Mexico – 29,670 square miles. By 1854, the agreement was signed and was called the Gadsden Purchase, also known as the Treaty of La Mesilla. The US paid Mexico $10 Million for the land that is now a portion of Arizona and New Mexico.

In the same year, 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry, a naval officer made an expedition towards Japan that forced the later country to open up its doors for trade and commerce. Earlier in 1845, the US has already joined a movement that was celebrated worldwide which aims to uniform the postage stamps and their rates. The Congressional Act of 1845 approved the first US postage stamps. Also, the rate of the local prepaid letter was maintained at five cents.

Six years later, Senator Daniel S. Dickinson of New York advocated for a legislation that initiated the creation of tiny silver coins in three cents denomination. During that time, the public uses large cents that are inconvenient and unpopular, making it necessary for new coins to be minted. Also, the new three cents will make it easier for people to buy stamps.

The same reasoning was used and the Mint Act of February 21, 1853, authorized the creation of the Three Dollar Gold Coins. The Congress and Robert Maskell Patterson, a Mathematician and the Current US Mint Director at that time were certain that the public would welcome the new coin which will be used to purchase sheets of the three cent stamps.

US Mint Chief Engraver James Barton Longacre made the design for the new Three Dollar Gold Coin. It has a reeded edge, weighs approximately 5.0150g and has 20.5mm in diameter. For the obverse, he used an Indian Princess modeled after a statue in a Philadelphia museum. Longacre used the Greco-Roman Venus Accroupie’s sharp nose on his 1849 Gold Dollar and again on the 1859 Indian Head Cent.

US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1854-G$3-Indian Princess Head, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

Miss Liberty can be seen wearing a feathered headdress that has equal-sized plumes and a band that bears the word LIBERTY in capital letters. The inscription of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is written in bold letters surrounding Miss Liberty.

For the reverse side of the coin, a wreath made up of wheat, corn, tobacco, and cotton is featured. The wreath encircles the gold coins’ denomination which is 3 DOLLARS as well as the date.

There are two bold types of reverse for the Three Dollar Gold Coin – a small DOLLARS can be seen on coins minted in 1854 while a large DOLLARS are minted from 1855-1889. Mint marks for each Three Dollar Gold Coin can be found underneath the wreath.

According to NGCCOIN.Com, over 535,000 pieces of the THREE DOLLAR GOLD COINS were minted in regular strike and only 2058 in proofs. In 1854, the first Three Dollar Gold Coins minted were 15 proof coins. By May 1, 1854, the regular production of the Three Dollar Gold Coins commenced. The three US Mints that produced the gold coin are the Philadelphia, Dahlonega and New Orleans Mint.

During the first year of production, the Philadelphia minted produced 138,618 Three Dollar Gold Coins and bears no mint marks. 1,120 were produced at the Dahlonega Mint bearing the mint mark D while 24,000 were minted at the New Orleans Mint bearing the mint mark O. these two US Mints only produced coins in 1854. The San Francisco Mint continued the production of Three Dollar Gold Coins in 1855 to 1857, 1860 and 1870. The Three Dollar Gold Coins ceased in 1889 as well as the three-cent nickel and gold dollar.

Regular Strikes of the Three Dollar Gold Coins according to the PCGS Coin Facts
1854 Three Dollar Gold -138,618 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1854-D Three Dollar Gold -1,120 pieces produced at the Dahlonega Mint

1854-O Three Dollar Gold -24,000 pieces produced at the New Orleans Mint

1855 Three Dollar Gold -50,555 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1855-S Three Dollar Gold – 6,600 pieces produced at the San Francisco Mint

1856 Three Dollar Gold -26,010 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1856-S Three Dollar Gold -34,500 pieces produced at the San Francisco Mint

1857 Three Dollar Gold -20,891 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1857-S Three Dollar Gold -14,250 pieces produced at the San Francisco Mint

1858 Three Dollar Gold -2,133 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1859 Three Dollar Gold – 15,558 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1860 Three Dollar Gold -7,036 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1860-S Three Dollar Gold -7,000 pieces produced at the San Francisco Mint

1861 Three Dollar Gold -5,959 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1862 Three Dollar Gold -5,750 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1863 Three Dollar Gold -5,000 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1864 Three Dollar Gold – 2,630 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1865 Three Dollar Gold -1,140 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1866 Three Dollar Gold – 4,000 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1867 Three Dollar Gold – 2,600 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1868 Three Dollar Gold – 4,850 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1869 Three Dollar Gold – 2,500 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1870 Three Dollar Gold – 3,500 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1870-S Three Dollar Gold – 1 piece produced at the San Francisco Mint

1871 Three Dollar Gold -1,300 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1872 Three Dollar Gold-2,000 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1873 Three Dollar Gold-100 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1874 Three Dollar Gold-41,800 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1877 Three Dollar Gold-1,468 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1878 Three Dollar Gold-82,304 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1879 Three Dollar Gold-3,000 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1880 Three Dollar Gold-1,000 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1881 Three Dollar Gold-500 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1882 Three Dollar Gold-1.500 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1883 Three Dollar Gold-900 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1884 Three Dollar Gold-1,000 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1885 Three Dollar Gold-801 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1886 Three Dollar Gold-1,000 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1887 Three Dollar Gold-6,000 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1888 Three Dollar Gold – 5,000 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1889 Three Dollar Gold – 2,300 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

Proof Strikes of the Three Dollar Gold Coins according to the PCGS Coin Facts

1854 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 15 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1855 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 5 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1856 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 5 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1857 Three Dollar Gold, DC (Proof) – 5 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1858 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 15 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1859 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 80 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1860 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 119 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1861 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 113 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1862 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 35 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1863 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 39 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1864 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 50 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1865 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 25 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1865 Three Dollar Gold Restrike, DC (Proof) – Total number of coins produced unknown

1866 Three Dollar Gold, DC (Proof) – 30 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1867 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 50 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1868 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 25 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1869 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 25 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1870 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 35 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1871 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 30 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1872 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 30 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1873 Three Dollar Gold Closed 3 (Proof) – 8 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1873 Three Dollar Gold Open 3 (Proof) – 25 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1874 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 20 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1875 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 20 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1876 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 45 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1877 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 20 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1878 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 20 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1879 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 30 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1880 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 36 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1881 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 54 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1882 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) -76 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1883 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 89 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1884 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 106 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1885 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 109 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1886 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 142 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1887 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 160 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1888 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 291 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1889 Three Dollar Gold (Proof) – 129 pieces produced at the Philadelphia Mint

1855-S Three Dollar Gold, BM (Proof) – 2 pieces produced at the San Francisco Mint

It is important to note that Three Dollar Gold Coins in Proofs can have Cameo or Deep Cameo effects. Such coins have a mirror-like surface and can be a moderate to light contrast on both sides.

Prices of the 1909 VDB Lincoln Cents

One can buy Three Dollar Gold Coins starting at $550.00 up to $ 330,000.00.

For a price guide of the Three Dollar Gold Coins, you may check the list on PCGS.

Collecting Three Dollar Gold Coins

US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1854-G$3-Indian Princess Head, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

Three Dollar Gold Coins may have been unpopular at the time these were made available to the public, but it has gained a reputation for rarity among coin collectors nowadays. It proved to be difficult when collecting these gold coins even for collectors with unlimited resources.

Almost all Three Dollar Gold Coins are considered rare as only over half a million were minted. Rare dated Three Dollar Gold pieces include the following:

1854-D Three Dollar Gold

These are the only Three Dollar Gold Coins minted in the Dahlonega Mint

1875 Proof Three Dollar Gold

Three Dollar Gold Coins minted in 1875 have a mintage rate of 20 – all are considered Ultra Rare

1876 Proof Three Dollar Gold

There were only 45 proofs were minted considered Extremely or Ultra Rare coins

Some varieties of the Three Dollar Gold Coins that only has a few dozen of pieces are only offered once if not twice in a lifetime, making it very hard for collectors to acquire the rarest pieces. If you’re keen on collecting the complete series, the coin you’ll have to chase is the 1870-S Three Dollar Gold Coin.

1870-S Three Dollar Gold

According to the NGC, the 1870-S is worth 4 million dollars. Only one specimen is known to exist and was owned by Harry Bass. He was a popular coin collector known for having the most complete collection of die-state and die-variety US gold coins. As of to date, the 1870-S was on loan to the ANA (American Numismatic Association) located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Some say there is another specimen for the 1870-S but never made an appearance.

Another coin worth mentioning is the 1855-S in Branch Mint Proof. According to the PCGS CoinFacts, this variety which is worth more than 1.3 million dollars.

Some Three Dollar Gold Coins were minted in small numbers but nonetheless within a collector reach are the following:

1854-O Three Dollar Gold– the only Three Dollar Gold Coins minted in New Orleans have a total number of 24,000 coins produced, but only a thousand were said to exist nowadays.

1865 Three Dollar Gold – only 1,140 were produced in a regular strike and 25 proofs

1877 Three Dollar Gold – only 1,468 were produced in a regular strike and 20 proofs

1881 Three Dollar Gold – only 500 were produced in a regular strike and 54 proofs

In conclusion, one can buy a Three Dollar Gold Coin from $550.00-$4,000,000.00. Because of its rarity, many have tried to scam people by selling fake or even low-grade Three Dollar Gold Coins and sold for a much higher price than necessary. When buying this gold coin, make sure to purchase only from certified sellers and dealers.

References:

PCGS, PCGS CoinFacts, NGCCoin, U.S. Coin Values

Featured Image Source: US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1854-G$3-Indian Princess Head, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0