$1 Liberty Head Type 3

The Type 3 Gold Dollar designed by James B. Longacre was struck between 1856 and 1889. The gold dollar series was inspired by the Great California Gold Rush.

General Details

$1 Liberty Head Type 3 Highlights

  • Composition is .048375 troy oz of gold (90% purity) and 10% copper alloy
  • Weight: 1.72 grams
  • Diameter: 15 mm
  • Designed by James B. Longacre (minted from 1856–1889)
  • Smallest coin ever created by the US Mint

Designer James Longacre was determined to get it right and this coin, the Liberty Head Type 3 Gold Dollar of 1856 must have done it because this design remained in production until 1889. The Type 3 Gold Dollar features a new Indian Princess Head incarnation of Lady Liberty. The design is larger and shallower than the two previous designs of the gold dollar. The number of places were recessed dies opposed each other were minimized; thus, allowing for better flow of the metal and allowing for a fully struck coin. The reverse continues the wreath used the Type 2 dollars. Here, in this third design attempt, the problems of striking are solved for the most part. Gold dollars from this era are sharply defined.

History of the Liberty Head Type 3 Gold Dollar

Through trial and error, Longacre simplified his ideas about the Gold Dolar. He made the portrait larger and flatter. No more attempts at high relief, and even though this coin is typically referred to as an Indian Princess, the renowned numismatic scholar Walter Breen maintained that the head is actually inspired by a Roman marble figure that was on display at the time in the Philadelphia museum. Longacre simply added a headdress of some kind.

Mintages were highest in the years 1856 and secondly 1857. During the years 1856 and 1862 total mintage approached 2 million pieces. This is in contrast with other years where production was trivial; for example in 1875, only 400 gold dollars were produced. There were many other years were the mintages were in the 3,000 to 5,000 range. The Civil War caused the close of the Charlotte and Dahlonega Mints leaving only the Philadelphia Mint in action except for the San Francisco issue of 1870.

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The rarest and most desirable dates are 1856-D and 1861-D. Both are difficult to located in Mint State condition. For type collectors, high-grade examples are readily available.

A total of 19,499,337 gold dollars were coins, of which 18,223,436 were struck at the Philadelphia Mint; 1,004,000 at New Orleans; 109,138 at Charlotte; 90,232 at San Francisco; and 72,529 at Dahlonega. An advertisement in an 1899 issue of The Numismatist, gold dollars brought $1.80 each and were still in demand especially as birthday presents and for jewelry.

After Longacre’s 3 tries, the Gold Dollar finally found it niche and production continued without interruption for more than 3 decades, even through the country’s most violent upheavals, until the coin was discontinued in 1889. Longacre’s Gold Dollar is a symbol of American tenacity and resilience in the face of adversity.

As with this series and all gold coins, be aware of convincing counterfeit coins. If you are not an expert yourself, insist on buying coins from a reputable dealer.

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.


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$1 Indian Head Gold Type 3 Coin
3Composition.9000 gold .1000 copper
4Diameter0.5906 inches (15 mm)
5Weight0.0547 troy oz (1.70 g)
7DesignJames Barton Longacre
8MintUS Mint
9Years of Mintage1856–1889
10IRA EligibleNo
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