$1.00 Liberty Head Gold (Types I, II, III)
The US Mint realized that due to the discovery of gold in Sutter’s Mill in California in 1849, a smaller denomination coin was needed. The Mint wound up striking three different designs of One Dollar gold coins. The Mint’s Chief Engraver, James B. Longacre, created the designs for the first one-dollar gold coin. Like all US gold coins, the composition was .900 Gold and .100 Copper and it was the smallest coin the United States Mint had ever struck, having a diameter of only 13mm.
The Gold Liberty Head Dollar was first struck in 1849. Longacre’s design had Miss Liberty facing left, wearing a crown with the word “LIBERTY” inscribed on it, surrounded by 13 six-pointed stars. The reverse has the denomination “1 DOLLAR” and the DATE inside a wreath, with “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” around.
In 1849, just under 700 thousand coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint, both with the designer’s initial “L” and without his initial. There were also 2 different varieties – a Close Wreath and an Open Wreath. Exact mintages of each variety are unknown, but neither is very rare.
The US mint in Charlotte, NC, struck 11,634 coins, while the Mint in Dahlonega, GA mint struck 21,588 coins, and the Mint in New Orleans struck 215,000 coins. By 1850 all 4 Mints were striking these coins.
But 1854 became the last year of the Type 1 design and they were only struck at three mints that year. Philadelphia, Dahlonega, and the newly opened San Francisco Mint.
There were numerous complaints about the size of the small one-dollar gold coin. Longacre again adapted the one-dollar gold coin by changing the design on both sides. The coin was made slightly thinner but that allowed it to be increased in diameter from 13mm to 15mm. Longacre shelved his traditional Miss Liberty design for a redo of Miss Liberty, now wearing an Indian headdress.
Miss Liberty now faced left, and she wore a large Indian feathered bonnet on her head. She was surrounded by the legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” The reverse displayed an ornate agricultural wreath – depicting corn, cotton, tobacco, and wheat – and a large bow with the denomination “1 DOLLAR” inside of it.
But this redesigned coin was not without its own problems. It was struck only in Philadelphia during 1854. By 1855, all four of the Mints – Philadelphia and the three branch mints in Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans – had trouble fully striking the coin. This “Indian Princess” design did not allow for the metal to fill up the dies on Miss Liberty’s portrait and it couldn’t fully strike the two middle digits in the date. In 1856, only the San Francisco mint tried striking the coin, with limited success. Now that this redesign was unable to be struck properly, the coin was scheduled to be redesigned yet again.
Longacre was sent to redesign this coin yet again. He made the Indian Head portrait larger, but also flatter so it wouldn’t require so much metal to fill the design on both sides. Additionally, Longacre moved “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” to give even more room for the Indian Princess portrait. Now Longacre and the Mint were ready to strike some coins.
The first year of the Type 3 Liberty Gold Dollar was 1856, but between 1857 and 1861, all of the Philadelphia Mint coins are considered relatively common. The coins struck at Charlotte or Dahlonega mints are very scarce.
The 1861 coin struck in Dahlonega had an estimated mintage of between 1,000 and 1,250 coins and all were struck by either the State of Georgia or the Confederate States of America as the Mint had been seized by Confederate troops. Less than 100 coins are known to exist, and it is one of the great rarities in this Liberty Gold Dollar series.
Between 1863 and the end of the series in 1889, four coins are considered as scarce: the 1863 with 6,200 minted, the 1865 with 3,700 coins struck, the 1870-S with a tiny 3,000 mintage and the 1875 with only 400 struck.
What Makes the U.S. Gold Dollar So Special?
The U.S. Gold Dollar (Gold One-Dollar Piece) is a gold coin that was a result of The Alaskan and California Gold Rush and was struck as a regular issue by the United States Bureau of the Mint from 1849 to 1889. Over $600 million dollars of gold was discovered within the first ten years of the California Gold rush which caused California's the population to go from 25,000 to more than half a million transforming the Golden State into the 31st state. While the majority of America was on the verge of civil war, Californians were preoccupied with finding wealth and fortune and staking their claims to it. The California gold rush changed the face of United States coinage. The massive amounts of gold that emerged from California prompted Congress to authorize three new denomination gold coins: A gold dollar, a three-dollar gold piece and a double eagle ($20) gold piece. These gold coins were created to help convert the metal into a more usable form for the public. Instead of paying for goods with a bag of gold dust, a coin was a much better option.
The gold dollar coin had three types over its lifetime and were all designed by Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre.
Type 1 (1849-1854) is the smallest coin in U.S. history (much smaller than a dime) and owes its existence to two of the biggest gold rushes in American History, but mostly California. The size however caused problems because the coin was easily misplaced and lost. At a time when a dollar was worth an entire days pay for the average person, this was way too much to lose. Even though this coin is very tiny it is a GIANT in terms of history, rarity and value. These coins are highly valuable and collectible because they are scarce.
Type 2 (1854-1856) was about 15% larger in diameter, making Type 2 gold dollar easier to keep track of and less likely to get lost. Unfortunately, it had a major shortcoming of its own: Longacre made the relief on the obverse too high on this coin and the majority of the coins were half struck as a result. Very few examples exhibit sharp details in the hair, the word DOLLAR and the date. During its short rain 1.6 million Type 2 examples were produced, with the Philadelphia issues of 1854 and 1855 accounting for the vast majority. Because of its high relief problems and its small total population, the Type 2 is extremely rare in mint condition.
Type 3 (1856-1889) After the failure of the Type 2, Longacre applied the same principle to the obverse design, but he was able to make the portrait larger and flatter reducing its depth. He also moved UNITED STATES OF AMERICA closer to border of the obverse. Though the size and configuration of the portrait differ, the Type 2 and Type 3 gold dollars basically have the same design. Type 3 gold dollars (pieces) are far more plentiful in choice mint condition than the two earlier types. Gem examples of 1862, 1874 and many dates in the 1880's are generally available.
Gold Dollar G$1 Details:
Value: 1 United States dollar
Mass: 1.672 grams
Diameter: Type 1: 12.7 mm, Types 2 and 3: 14.3 mm
Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper
Gold Content: .04837 Troy ounce
Years of minting: 1849–1889
Charlotte Mint "C" (Minted every year except 1854).
The Charlotte Mint was the first United States branch mint. It was located in Charlotte, North Carolina and specialized in gold coinage. Before the Charlotte Mint, minors had to send their gold to Philadelphia to be melted and coined. This was not only difficult and dangerous, but very slow and expensive which lead to the creation of private coining operations. In the spring of 1831, merchants and minors of North Carolina petitioned the United States Congress for a branch in the Charlotte region. Four years later in 1835, the United States Congress approved an Act to establish several branch mints.
Dahlonega "D" (Minted all years)
New Orleans "O" (Minted every year except 1854)
San Francisco "S" (Minted only in 1854)
Philadelphia Mint "P". (Minted all years) *Gold pieces from the Philadelphia Mint, lack the mint-mark.
Buy U.S. Gold Dollars from LCR Coin
LCR Coin carries a large inventory of early American Gold Dollars certified and graded by PCGS and NGC. A link to each coin’s certification by its grading service is on each coin’s product page. These highly valuable and collectible coins come with an unconditional return policy. We also carry CAC Certified Gold Dollars which add additional value to the already graded coin. Whether you are new to collecting, a novice collector, building a legacy collection or an investor, LCR Coin is the right place for your numismatic needs. LCR Coin has been in business over 30 years and we take pride in our inventory and our customer relationships. Please visit our online catalog often as our inventory changes daily. If you have any questions or requests feel free to contact us at email@example.com or 800-830-5578.