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    

1850 Liberty Head United States Gold Dollar $1 Coin Pcgs Ms631915 S 1 Dollar Pan Pacific Comm Gold Coin In Ngc Ms62 Uncirculated Condition1851 Liberty Head Holed $1 Gold One Dollar Us Coin ---- Holed1855 Type-2 Gold Indian Princess Head $1 Coin1853 Gold Dollar $1 Liberty Head Coin Type 1 United States Gold Coin1853 1 Dollar Liberty Gold Coin In Ngc Ms61 Uncirculated Condition1862 Gold United States Princess Head $1 Coin Civil War Date Type 31909 A.y.p.e. Gold Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition Coin 1/4 Dwt Stick Pin 2-1/4"1852-o Dollar Piece, $1 Gold Liberty, Scarce Choice Au++ New Orleans Type 1 Date1851 $1 Liberty Head Princess Gold Coin One Dollar Nice!1852 Liberty Gold Dollar $1 Ngc Ms61 Rare Date 1854 Princess Indian Head 1 One Dollar United States Of America Gold Coin$1 22k Gold One Dollar Coin Liberty Head Love Token Gold Filled Stick Pin1860 S $1 Gold Princess Type 3 Early U.s. $1 Gold Piece1851 U.s. Gold $1 Liberty Head Coin **no Reserve**1852 Pcgs Dollar Piece, $1 Gold Liberty, Type 1, Pcgs Ms 62 ** Free Shipping!1852 Us Mint One Dollar Liberty Gold Coin W/14k Gold Bezel1851 Gold Dollar, Vf-xf Details, Hole/plug, Type 1, No Reserve, True Auction1852 Liberty Head $1 Gold Coin Xf ~ Small Hole * Circulated Us Coin1869 Bg-1020 One Dollar Gold Pcgs Ms62! No Reserve Auction!1853-o $1 Us One Dollar Gold Liberty Type 1 Coin $1.00 Holed For Pendant No Res 1859 U.s. 1 Dollar $1.00 Gold Bu Nice Lustre Indian Princess Coin1903 $1 Mckinley Louisiana Purchase Commemorative Gold Dollar Stick Pin 2-1/4"1855 $1 Gold Princess Type 2 Excellent Strike Early U.s. $1 Gold Piece1888 $1 Gold Proof Cameo Anacs 1853 $1 Gold Coin Liberty One Dollar U.s. Very Nice Condition For Collecting1854 Gold Dollar, $1 Gold Liberty, Type 1, Beautiful Gem Bu++ Piece, ** Free S/hCirculated 1853 Philadelphia Mint $1 Gold Coin Free S/h!1916 Mckinley Gold Dollar Coin G$1 Certified Ngc Ms62 Rare 1854 $1 Gold Princess Type 2 Brilliant Luster Early U.s. $1 Gold Piece1859 One 1 Dollar Gold Coin MoneyNice Coin 1857 Usa Gold $1 (great Eye Appeal) See Hi-res Image No Reserve1862 $1 One Dollar Indian Princess American Gold Coin1903 $1 Gold Thomas Jefferson Louisiana Purchase Exposition1851 $1 Gold Liberty Head Dollar Extra Fine1856 1/4 Dollar Liberty Gold Octagonal Coin Pendant1853 $1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar Ngc Au1853 Usa $1 Gold Dollar Gold Coin Liberty Head. Jo-8041851 Us $1 One Dollar Gold Coin Type I High Grade Condition – No Reserve1862 $ 1.00 Indian Head Gold Coin- Pcgs Uncirculated Coin.Indian Head Princess Gold $1 Large Head Pendant Love Token Coin1854 $1 One Dollar Gold Type 2!! Au-58 Pcgs And Cac!!! Very Scarce Type Two!!!1856 $1 Indian Head Gold Coin Liberty One Dollar Rare!1857 U.s. 1 Dollar $1.00 Gold Indian Princess Coin Combined Shipping Available✯1873 Gold Dollar Indian Princess $1 Coin ✯ Mint Liberty Head Ultra Rare Nr ✯ 1851 $1 Liberty Head Gold Coin 1853 $1 Liberty Head Gold Coin 1903 - Mckinley Commemorative Gold Dollar - Icg Au 50 DetailsAntique Estate 14k Yellow Gold 1853 Gold Liberty One Dollar Statement Ring$1 Gold Piece Jewelry 1850-1854 No Reserve1850 $1 Us Old Gold Coin Type 1 Circulated Vf Details #804$1g 1856 T-3 Liberty Head Gold Dollar, Xf-au * Avenuecoin1853 $1 Gold - Nice Coin!1849 United States Liberty Head $1 Dollar Gold Coin ~ Guaranteed Authentic1856 $1 Gold Dollar Indian Princess Type 3 Xf Details 1856 U.s. Gold $1 Type Iii Indian Princess Head Coin **no Reserve**1855 Indian Princess Head Gold $1 Eagle Ngc Xf 451851 One Dollar Gold Liberty Head! No Reserve Auction!1849 Gold Dollar. Uncirculated. Guaranteed Genuine. 3 Day Return.1856 Octaganal Liberty 25c Gold Coin In Ngc Ms64 Uncirculated Condition