The Gold Dollar

The smallest denomination made out of Gold in the United States history of coinage belongs to no other than the Gold Dollar. It was a regular issued $1 Gold Coin minted from 1849-1899 despite the fact that minting was prohibited from 1861 until 1865 – the time of the Civil War. Thanks to the iconic California Gold Rush, the US Government was able to create coins made of Gold.

Robert M. Patterson, the US Mint Director at that time was not very keen on the idea of creating mint-issued gold dollars. However, his opposition failed to stop Gold Coins from being approved when the Congress passed a legislation on March 3, 1849. The Coin Act of 1849 authorized the created and minting of Gold $1 Coins and $20 Gold Coins which are also known as Double Eagles.

The Gold Dollar has three types: The Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar, The Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head and The Type 3 Indian Princes Large Head. All three types were designed by James B. Longacre, the US Mint Chief Engraver.

Gold Dollar is composed of 90% Gold and 10% Copper. It weighs about 1.70 grams and has a reeded edge. As for the diameter, the Type 1 is 12.70mm while both Type 2 and 3 are 14.30mm.

The Three Types of Gold Dollar (Varieties, Mintmarks, and Mintages)

Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar

The first design for the Gold $1 Coin was known as the Liberty Head. It was first struck in 1849 and lasted until 1854.

Image courtesy of , 1849 G$1 Open Wreath (obv), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY 4.0

The head of Miss Liberty facing left was featured on the obverse. She’s seen wearing a headband where the word LIBERTY was inscribed and she’s being surrounded by a total of 13 stars.

Image courtesy of , 1849 G$1 Closed Wreath (rev), size, CC BY 4.0

For the reverse, the denomination written 1 DOLLAR along with the date is surrounded by a wreath. The UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is placed in a form of an arc just above the wreath while the mintmark sits just below the wreath.

The Liberty Head Gold Dollar was minted in five US Mints – Philadelphia, Dahlonega, New Orleans, Charlotte and San Francisco. Each coin bears the mintmark of the respective mints where they were produced except for Philadelphia. S for those minted in San Francisco, D for Dahlonega, O for New Orleans and C for Charlotte.

The US Mints in Dahlonega and Philadelphia are the only ones that issued the Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar yearly from 1849-1854. Despite this, it was the Philadelphia Mint and the in New Orleans that have a much higher mintage among the five. The lowest number of Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollars minted in a US Mint is in the Dahlonega Mint. Proof coins were made in 1849 and 1850, but there was a rumored Liberty Head Proof minted in the year 1851 and 1854.

Regular Strike

1849 Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 688,567 pieces were minted at the Philadelphia Mint

  •    1849 No L
  •    1849 Open Wreath
  •    1849 Closed Wreath

1849-C Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 11,634 pieces were minted at the Charlotte Mint

  •    1849-C Closed Wreath
  •    1849-C Open Wreath

1849-D Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 21,588 pieces were minted at the Dahlonega Mint

1849-O Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 21,588pieces were minted at the New Orleans Mint

1850 Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 481,953 pieces were minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1850-C Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 6,966 pieces were minted at the Charlotte Mint

1850-D Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 8,382 pieces were minted at the Dahlonega Mint

1850-O Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 14,000 pieces were minted at the New Orleans Mint

1851 Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 3,317,671 pieces were minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1851-C Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 41,267 pieces were minted at the Charlotte Mint

1851-D Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 9,882 pieces were minted at the Dahlonega Mint

1851-O Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 290,000 pieces were minted at the New Orleans Mint

1852 Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 2,045,351 pieces were minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1852-C Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 9,434 pieces were minted at the Charlotte Mint

1852-D Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 6,360 pieces were minted at the Dahlonega Mint

1852-O Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 140,000 pieces were minted at the New Orleans Mint

1853 Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 4,076,051 pieces were minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1853-C Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 11,515 pieces were minted at the Charlotte Mint

1853-D Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 6,583 pieces were minted at the Dahlonega Mint

1853-O Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 290,000 pieces were minted at the New Orleans Mint

1854 Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 855,502 pieces were minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1854-D Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 2,935 pieces were minted at the Dahlonega Mint

1854-S Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar – 14,632 pieces were minted at the San Francisco Mint

Proofs

1849 Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar (Proof) – 10 pieces were minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1850 Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar (Proof) – 2 pieces were minted at the Philadelphia Mint

Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollar

US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1854-G$1-Indian head (Ty2), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

The second type of the Gold Dollar was born in 1854. When the US Mint Director Robert Patterson was succeeded by James Ross Snowden, he agreed with critics that the very small size of the Gold Dollar which was only about 13 mm made it very easy to lose. Many have argued years before that a new design be made for the Gold Dollar – it should be bigger in diameter and have a center hole to compensate for the weight.

Test strikes were actually made but when Snowden became the US Mint Director, he had something else in mind. He approved of a bigger Gold Dollar in terms of diameter, but instead of putting a hole in the center of the coin, the coins will be made thinner to compensate for the weight.

Snowden then appointed Longacre to modify his Liberty Head Gold Dollar in 2854. Longacre actually based the designed f the new Gold Dollar which came to be known as the Indian Princess, Small Head on the design he made for the $3 Gold. The new Gold Dollar was then first minted in 1854 – larger in diameter for about 15%.

Lost Dutchman Rare Coins for image, James B. Longacre for coin, 1854 gold dollar type 2 obverse, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 3.0 US

For the obverse, Longacre featured a portrait of a woman wearing a fancy Indian headdress. She was facing right and her head has a smaller size compared to the Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar. Stars no longer surround the portrait and were replaced with the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Lost Dutchman Rare Coins for image, James B. Longacre for coin, 1854 gold dollar type 2 reverse, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 3.0 US

As for the reverse, the wreath got bigger as if filled the space where the inscription used to be.

The Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollars were minted in five US Mints – each bearing the respective mintmark of where they were produced. The total number of coins minted were barely 1.6 million pieces – wherein Philadelphia Mint has the highest mintages.

The Type 2 Gold Dollar only lasted until 1856 due to a problem encountered when striking the coin. The high relief of the coin’s obverse was too high which resulted to some details on the head of the coin – especially the date, the word DOLLAR and sharp details on the female’s head are not very visible.

Regular Strike

1854 Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollars – 783,943 pieces minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1855 Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollars – 758,269 pieces minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1855-C Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollars – 9,803 pieces minted at the Charlotte Mint

1855-D Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollars – 1,811 pieces minted at the Dahlonega Mint

1855-O Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollars – 55,000 pieces minted at the New Orleans Mint

1856-S Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollars – 24,600 pieces minted at the San Francisco Mint

Proofs

1854 Type 2 Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollars (Proof) – 5 pieces minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1855 Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollars (Proof) – 12 pieces minted at the Philadelphia Mint

Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollars

US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1856-G$1-Indian head (Ty3), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

The 3rd type of the Gold Dollar was created in 1856 after the Type 2 proved to be deteriorating rapidly causing lots of coins to be dateless. And so, Longacre went to increase the portrait’s size, although the design was essentially the same.

The obverse still featured the so-called Indian Princess and the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounding the portrait, but Longacre made the portrait bigger than the Type 2, the Indian Princess’ hair arranged differently, the headdress in a horizontal plane while the inscription was kept closer to the coin’s border. The reverse stayed the same.

These were minted in Philadelphia, Dahlonega, Charlotte and San Francisco. The third type proved to be the best design for the Gold Dollar thanks to its durability. After more than three decades, the Gold Dollar had its final wave in 1889.

Regular Strike

1856 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,762,936 pieces minted in Philadelphia

  •    1856 Slanted 5
  •    1856 Upright 5

1856-D Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,460 pieces minted in Dahlonega

1857 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 774,789 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1857-C Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 13,280 pieces minted in Charlotte

1857-D Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 3,533 pieces minted in Dahlonega

1857-S Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 10,000 pieces minted in San Francisco

1858 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 117,995 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1858-D Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 3,477 pieces minted in Dahlonega

1858-S Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 10,000 pieces minted in San Francisco

1859 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 168,244 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1859-C Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 5,235 pieces minted in Charlotte

1859-D Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 4,952 pieces minted in Dahlonega

1859-S Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 15,000 pieces minted in San Francisco

1860 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 36,514 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1860-D Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,566 pieces minted in Dahlonega

1860-S Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 13,000 pieces minted in San Francisco

1861 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 527,150 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1861-D Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – Unknown, minted in Dahlonega

1862 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,361,355 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1863 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 6,200 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1864 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 5,900 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1865 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 3,700 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1866 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 7,100 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1867 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 5,200 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1868 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 10,500 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1869 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 5,900 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1870 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 6,300 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1870-S Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 3,000 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1871 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 3,900 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1872 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 3,500 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1873 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 125,100 pieces minted in Philadelphia

  •    1873 Open 3
  •    1873 Closed 3

1874 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 198,800 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1875 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 400 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1876 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 3,200 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1877 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 3,900 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1878 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 3,000 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1879 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 3,000 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1880 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,600 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1881 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 7,620 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1882 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 5,000 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1883 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 10,800 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1884 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 5,230 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1885 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 11,156 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1886 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 5,000 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1887 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 7,500 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1888 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 15,501 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1889 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 28,950 pieces minted in Philadelphia

Proofs

1856 Slanted 5 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 15 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1857 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 20 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1858 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 40 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1859 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 80 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1860 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 154 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1861 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 349 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1862 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 35 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1863 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 50 minted in Philadelphia

1864 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 50 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1865 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 25 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1866 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 30 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1867 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 50 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1868 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 25 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1869 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 25 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1870 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 35 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1871 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 30 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1872 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 30 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1873 Closed 3 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 25 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1874 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 20 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1875 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 20 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1876 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 45 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1877 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 20 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1878 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 20 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1879 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 30 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1880 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 36 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1881 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 87 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1882 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 125pieces minted in Philadelphia

1883 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 207 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1884 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,006 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1885 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,105 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1886 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,016 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1887 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,043 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1888 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,079 pieces minted in Philadelphia

1889 Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar – 1,779 pieces minted in Philadelphia

Collecting Gold Dollars

US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1849-G$1-Liberty head (Ty1), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

For Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollars, one can easily find a complete date set, but one will find that collecting date and mintmark sets are harder to find thanks to the rarities and varieties one needs to obtain. The rare varieties are the Type 1 Liberty Gold Dollars minted at the Charlotte and Dahlonega Mints, each bearing C and D mintmarks respectively. The most in-demand coin by collectors being the 1849-C Open Wreath Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar.

For Type 2 Indian Princess, Small Head Gold Dollars, these very much in demand among coin collectors especially those in GEM conditions. The rarest among them being the 1855-D.

As for Type 3, the most wanted is the 1856-D and 1861-D being the rarest of them all to find in MS conditions.

When grading Gold Coins, the places to look for signs of wear are the hair near the coronet and the tips of the wreath’s leaves for Type 1 Liberty Head Gold Dollars. For Type 2 Indian Princess Small Head are the areas of the Indian Princess’ hair over her eye and the ribbon’s knot at the base of the wreath. As for Type 3 Indian Princess, Large Head Gold Dollar, check for the Indian Princess’ cheeks as well as her eye and the ribbon’s knot at the base of the wreath.

One can purchase PCGS-graded Type 1 Gold Dollars starting $230.00-$135,000.00 for Mint State coins and $130,000.00-$400,000.00 for Proofs.

For Type 2 Gold Dollars, $300.00-$195,000.00 for Mint State coins and $125,000.00-$400,000.00 for Proofs.

For Type 3 Gold Dollars, $255.00-$150,000.00 for Mint State coins and $2,750.00-$75,000.00 for Proofs.

References:

PCGS, PCGS Coin Facts, NGC Coin, My Coin Guides, Coin Community