The first one-dollar gold coin was issued in 1849, more than half a century after the Coinage Act of 1792 but just one year after gold was discovered in California. James B. Longacre designed the coins, which were issued in three Types between 1849 and 1856. Coins in the first Type were just 12.7 mm in diameter, smaller than a contemporary dime. The coin’s size was increased to 14.3 mm in 1854.

The original Type 1 gold dollar featured a Liberty Head on one side and a wreath on the other. The most common Liberty Heads at that time were those minted in Philadelphia from 1851 to 1853, when almost 10 million coins were struck at that mint alone (some 12 million Type 1 coins were produced overall). But between 1859 and 1861, 8 million Liberty Heads were melted down so that the government could make other gold coins, which means that within a single decade, two-thirds of all Type 1 coins were lost.

Of the Liberty Heads, the rarest of the rare is undoubtedly the 1849C ("C" designates the mint in Charlotte, North Carolina) whose wreath on the coin’s reverse side is open at the top. The most counterfeited Liberty Heads are those purporting to have been minted in Philadelphia in 1853.

In 1854, a larger, so-called Indian Princess Head dollar was introduced (as it turns out, the portrait is probably not of an Indian Princess, but the name stuck). The first of these, minted from 1854 to 1856, are known as Type 2 and are usually referred to as Small Indian Princess Heads to differentiate them from the Type 3 Indian Princess Heads struck between 1856 and 1889. Coins in this latter group featured a larger head on the coin’s obverse, or front. All Type 2 coins are rare since they were only minted for three years in relatively low numbers.

Type 3 coins feature a very similar portrait on the front as the one on Type 2 coins, but it was enlarged and flattened to make the coin easier to strike. Of particular interest to collectors are the 1861 one-dollar gold coins minted in Dahlonega, Georgia. These were actually issued by the Confederacy after the Mint was seized. There is no accurate record of the number of coins struck, but some estimates put the number at as few as 1,250.

In addition to watching out for fakes (1853, 1854, 1855, and 1868 are the most commonly counterfeited years), gold-dollar coin collectors need to watch for evidence that a coin was used in jewelry. For a while, this was an especially popular practice with the original Liberty Heads. Look for solder marks, which dramatically decrease a coin’s value.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Home to the Society of U.S. Pattern collectors, this well-organized site provides in-depth information on pattern c… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1851 Type 1 Gold Dollar, Neat Hole, Au Details, True Auction1850's $1 Dollar American Liberty Head Gold Coin No Reserve1861 One Dollar Gold Piece1862 U.s. One Dollar $1 Princess Head Gold Coin Piece Civil War Era1855-p $1 Au Details Type 2 Indian Princess Head Holed Rare Date!! 1862 $1 Gold Princess Piece Beautiful Eye Appeal Civil War Era U.s. Gold1854 One Dollar Gold Piece Type 2 $1 Gold Philadelphia Mint Issue1853 Us Gold Dollar Coin With Hole - Bright Au Details!1851 Gold Dollar $1 Ms64+ Ngc. CacAvc- 1849 Gold Dollar Set In 14k Gold Mens Pinky Ring With 17 .1ct Diamond Bezel1853 O $1 Gold Coin Liberty Head Type 1 Dollar1854 Gold Dollar Type 1 1849 Gold $1.00 Pcgs Au58 'open Wreath'1859 S $1 Gold Princess Piece Beautiful Eye Appeal U.s. Gold1850 $1 Dollar American Liberty Head Gold Coin No Reserve1856 'slanted 5' $1 Gold Coin. Fantastic Collection Addition! No Reserve! 1853 One Dollar Gold Piece No Wear $1 Gold Philadelphia Mint IssueRare 1854 G$1 Type 1 Gold Liberty Head Dollar ,one Dollar Coin 1854 $ 1 Indian Head Princess Gold Coin Small Head 263abg1853 Gold $1.00 Pcgs Au551853 Type 1 $1.00 Gold Piece- High Grade- No Reserve1874 Gold $1 Indian Princess Head Dollar Ngc Certified Au Details Mount Removed1857 Gold Indian Princess One Dollar1856 $1 Indian Princess Gold Coin Pcgs Genuine Damage With Au Details Slanted 5$2 1/2 1845 Ngc Au 58 *** Cac ***Avc- 1853 Gold Dollar Pcgs Ms62 - Spot Free - Pq!Indian Princess Gold Dollar Turned Pin1852 $1 Dollar United States Gold Coin Liberty 1 Gold Coin Stick Pin1852-c 2 1/2 Dollar Gold Coin - Circulated - Ungraded - Very Rare1856 G$1 Slanted 5 Gold Dollar Type 3 Indian Princess Large Head Au58 Ngc1854 Indian Small Head $1 Gold Piece * Type 2 * Excellent Details * Free Ship1851-d $1.00 Gold Piece Ngc Au Details Very Rare Date1850 One Dollar Gold Piece $1 Gold Philadelphia Mint IssueFour Coin Reverse Proof Silver Eagle Anniversary Set With Rosewood Box1857 United States $1 Indian Princess Head Gold Coin - Pcgs Certified Au551852 $1 Liberty Gold Dollar Piece, Type 1, Nice, ** Free Shipping!Love Token 1$ One Dollar Gold Type 1 Higher Grade (isRare 1800's G$1 Type 3 Gold Princes Head Dollar ,one Dollar Coin 1854 Gold Indian Princess Type 2 Small Head One Dollar $1 Gold Coin Pin * E 45011852 Gold Dollar, Type 1, Lustrous And Sharp Au-unc, Hole, True Auction1852 (type-1) Almost Uncirculated-55 Ngc (g$1.00)1853 U.s. One Dollar $1 Liberty Head Gold Coin Piece - Circulated1876 One Dollar Gold Coin. Fresh Esate Found1785 Connecticut Token Ag & 1989 Canada One Dollar Bu1887 Liberty 2.5 Dollar Gold Coin1853 One Dollar Gold Coin.....ex-jewelry...............no Reserve!1853 Gold Dollar U.s.coin1853 1 Dollar Gold Coin1852 Gold Liberty Dollar Details Ngc Au 501889 Princess 1$ Gold--anacs--unc Details, Net Au-55 ScratchEcuador Un 1 Condor 1928 Gold Low Mintage 5.000 No Reserve!! 1873 Us Gold Indian Princess Head Dollar Large With Mahogony Case( 1 ) 1853 $1 One Dollar Liberty Head Gold Coin 1856 Type 3 Gold Dollar, Xf Details, True Auction, No Reserve1856 $1 Gold Pcgs-58 Ogh!!1862 One Dollar Gold Coin1851 Gold Dollar Coin 2 Coins 1853 $1 Liberty Head Gold Coin & 1945 Dos Pesos Gold Coin - CirculatedPre Civil War Era 1857 Us One Dollar Gold Piece....type Three Obverse1853 $1 Liberty Head Gold Piece No Reserve!