$1 Liberty Head Type 1

The Type 1 Gold Dollar first iteration of 3 designs of a gold dollar; it was struck from 1849–1854. It is a rather common coin in circulated condition and rare in gem state.

General Details

$ 1 Liberty Head (Type 1) Coin Highlights

  • Composition is .04837 troy oz of gold (90% purity) and 10% copper alloy
  • Weight: 1.72 grams
  • Diameter: 12.7 mm
  • Designed by James B. Longacre (minted from 1849–1854)
  • Smallest Coin Ever created by the US Mint

The $1 Liberty Head Type 1 or Type 1 Gold Dollar or gold one-dollar piece was a series of gold coins struck as a regular issue by the US Mint between 1849 and 1889. The coin had 3 types over the course of its 40-year production. At around 13 mm in diameter, the Type 1 variety has the smallest diameter of any coin ever minted in the United States. The design, heavily influenced by Christian Gobrecht’s earlier design of Lady Liberty, shows a left-facing Liberty portrait identical to the one used on the Double Eagle from the same period. 1850 to 1853 were years of highest mintage and highest usage of the gold dollar. Used often throughout the day, the Type 1 Gold Dollar replaced the half dollar and silver dollar and was a true workhorse; accordingly, many of the available specimens today show considerable wear.

History of the $1 Liberty Head Type 1 Gold Dollar

Thanks to the biggest gold rush in history, gold pour into the US Mint in Philadelphia from California and provided enough precious metal material to support a large initial mintage; in fact, except for the 1847 Eagle, the first Gold Dollar of 1849 had the highest number of gold coins produced by the Mints then any other gold coin previously issued by the US Mint. From a practical standpoint, the Type 1 Gold Dollar was a huge success. The gold dollar, roughly the equivalent of a day’s wage back then, was used in daily transactions. One problem with the new coin was its size. It was hard to handle and pieces were easily misplaced, lost or stolen, and losing a day’s wage was a big deal. It was also difficult to observe the design and read the inscriptions.

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The first strikes of 1849 had a smaller head and flat fields and are of exquisite beauty. The portrait was enlarged, and the fields basined, creating the standard format that’s characteristic for the Type 1.

Generally, the Liberty Head Type 1 Gold Dollars are plentiful in worn grades and low mint state levels. They are scarce in gem mint state. Among the gems that do exist, quite a few are dated 1849 and are of the smaller head variety as described above. The issues released from the New Orleans and San Francisco Mints add interest because they each have their own special characteristics.

The key date for Type 1 is the 1849-C (Charlotte) Open Wrath as well as other Charlotte and Dahlonega Mint issues. In general, buy the Type 1 Gold Dollars with great care. Many scarce and rare issues are loosely graded: what was graded AU yesterday it today’s Mint State. There are also convincing counterfeit examples of gold coins still floating around out there. If you are not an expert yourself, insist on buying coins from a reputable dealer who guarantees everything sold.

There are many superb coins available, but for coins released in the 1850s, the astute collector will have to be patient. Type 1 Gold Dollars can be a fascinating specialty to collect by date and by Mint of origin. Midas Gold Group recommends, as a possible way to begin, to acquire one of each type first, and then investigate the C and D minted coins. Other interesting pieces can be added as your investment collection grows. Midas Gold Group is always your best resource for buying, collecting, and even selling the Liberty Head Type 1 Gold Dollars.


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$1 Liberty Head Type 1
3Composition.9000 gold .1000 copper
4Diameter0.5118 inches (13 mm)
5Weight0.0547 troy oz (1.70 g)
7DesignJames Barton Longacre
8MintUS Mint
9Years of Mintage1849–1854
10IRA EligibleNo
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