1861-D $1 Gold Type 3 Large Head
1855 Type 2 Small Indian Head $1 Gold
SMALL INDIAN HEAD GOLD DOLLARS (1854-1856)

Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions
SMALL INDIAN HEAD GOLD DOLLARS (1854-1889)
(Buy $1 Gold Indian Coins ebay)

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LARGE INDIAN HEAD GOLD DOLLARS (1856-1889)

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LARGE INDIAN HEAD GOLD DOLLARS (1856-1889)

Other Notes of 1954 Coinage:
The year 1854 saw a couple of design changes in U.S. coins, all initiated by James Ross Snowden, who became Mint Director in 1853.  On the Three Cent Silver coins, the weight was reduced, two outlines were added around the star on the obverse, and an olive branch and a bunch of arrows were added to the reverse.  Rays were removed from the reverse of the Quarter Dollar and Half Dollar denominations.  And, the Gold Dollar was redesigned by Longacre to feature a Liberty head and wreath similar to those seen on the new Three Dollar Gold pieces (which also debuted earlier in 1854).

SPECIFICATIONS:

Large Indian Design

Designer: James Barton Longacre

Diameter: 14.3 millimeters

Metal content:
Gold - 90%
Silver and Copper - 10%

Weight: 25.8 grains (1.7 grams)

Edge: Reeded

Mint mark: Below the wreath on the reverse and none for Philadelphia Mint.

Small Indian Design

Designer: James Barton Longacre

Diameter: 14.3 millimeters

Metal content:
Gold - 90%
Silver and Copper - 10%

Weight: 25.8 grains (1.7 grams)

Edge: Reeded

Mint mark: "D" (for Dahlonega, GA) below the wreath on the reverse
LIBERTY HEAD GOLD DOLLARS FACTS

The One Dollar Gold denomination was the result of the Gold Rush in California beginning in 1849. The nation's mints began producing large quantities of gold dollars, which circulated mostly on the West Coast but gained acceptance nationwide.
Breen comments in his Complete Encyclopedia that from 1849 through 1854 "gold dollars formed the bulk of the nation's legal circulating medium between the 3c and the $2.50 denominations".

It was a fast accepted alternative to private bank notes and store scripts, that where made when the value of gold and silver fluctuated. The One Dollar Gold coins were not worth the effort of melting compared to the Eagle Gold coinage, but their size made them easily dropped and lost, prompting the US Mint to issue a thinner but a larger diameter Gold Dollar.

The US Mint did just that, in 1854, and it's now referred to as a Type II Gold Dollar. The new gold coin featured an Indian Princess in a feathered headdress with two reverse types, Open Wreath and Closed Wreath reverses, just as it's Liberty Gold Dollar counterpart.

Heritage Auctions comments, "Mint Director Snowden requested the new design from his talented engraver, James Longacre, along with a "bigger sister," the three dollar gold piece. Longacre intended the image of Liberty as a Romanesque version of the classic Venus (from a marble statue he saw in a Philadelphia museum) but the public saw the headdress and a classic was named.

In fact, it became the inspiration for the Indian cent. The new-style gold dollar, however, lasted only a matter of months. The government's set exchange rate--the ratio of gold to silver--could not be maintained, constantly threatening all gold pieces with private melting for profit. Many gold dollars struck during the period of this type's manufacture (less than two years) failed to survive the decade, accounting in part for their rarity today.

The style was elegant, a deft rendering of Liberty in her feathered bonnet, in noticeable high relief, but as Breen says, "The coins proved unsatisfactory from the beginning. Longacre had miscalculated, overestimating the power of the coining presses then in use." It was a sheer manufacturing problem, especially for the Southern mints, which used older presses discarded by the main facility at Philadelphia. The coins most often were poorly struck, with weak features that wore quickly in use. Many were officially melted.

The final type of this denomination, made beginning late in 1856, was the same size but in lower relief yet more deeply engraved, making the coins easier to produce with full details, and therefore they would endure far longer. What did not endure, in any number, were the Type Two issues--most of them unsharp to begin with, easily worn, largely melted and recoined into the new type."

Some high grade and well struck examples were saved from the "melting pot" and circulation, and these rare examples demand lofty premiums.
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