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    

Antique 22k Gold American $1 Dollar Coin 1853 Mounted Usa $1 No Reserve1851 Us One Dollar Liberty Head Gold Coin 1853 One Dollar $1 Liberty Gold Coin - Jewelry Piece Attachment - High Grade 1854 Us $1 Dollar Gold Coin Indian Princess Head 22k Anacs Ms 60 1974-p One Dollar Gold Coin.!!! Nice Bu.!!! Nr.!!Pq And Pl 1874 $1 Gold Dollar Pcgs Ms-61 Cac1850 $1.00 Gold Au 58 Pcgs1855 G$1 Gold Dollar Type 2 Ngc Xf Details For Auction! 99c Cents To Open!1853 Us $1 Gold Coin-pendant1853 $1 Us Gold Liberty Head One Dollar Gold Coin, Nice Condition1853 Us $1 Gold Coin With The Whole For The Mounting1854 Us One Dollar Indian Princess Head Gold Coin 1874 $1 Gold, Pcgs Certified Ms-62. 1853 $1 Gold Coin1857 Us $1 Gold Coin With The Whole For The Mounting1854 Type 2 United States Gold $1 One Dollar Indian Princess Head Ngc Au581854 Dollar Gold Piece, $1 Liberty, Type 1, Very Nice Choice Bu, ** Free Shippin1851 $1 Dollar Gold Liberty Coin Looks Uncirculated Pre Civil War1856 Upright 5 U.s. One Dollar $1 Princess Head Gold Coin Piece *** 1854 Type 2 Gold Dollar Solder Damage Us Coin !!!! ***1854 P Liberty Head Gold Dollar Type 1 .900 Gold Coin Km# 731854 $1 Gold, Pcgs Certified Ms-62. Looks Better.1852 O $1 Dollar Gold Liberty Head Coin Looks Uncirculated1856 Slant 5 G$1 Indian Princess Large Head Type Iii Gold Dollar Au Details 1852-o G$1 One Dollar Gold Au Details For Auction!! 99c Cents To Start!1851 $1 Liberty Head Gold Dollar Ngc Au551854 G$1 Liberty Head Type I Gold Dollar Appears To Have Come From Jewelry1857-c $1 Gold Coin Ngc Xf 40 Indian Princess Head Charlotte Us1852 $1 Gold, Ngc Certified Ms-62. Nice Coin.1852 U.s. One Dollar $1 Liberty Head Gold Coin Piece1851 Gold Dollar, Type 1, Vf Details, Hole, True Auction90% Pure Gold Genuine United States 1853 One $1 Dollar Gold Coin Charm Rare1889 $1 Indian Princess Head (large Head) Gold Dollar Ngc Ms631855 Type 2 Indian Princess $1 Gold Coin ~ Small Hole * Circulated Us Coin1874 One Dollar Princess Gold Coin $1 Gold Jewelry Coin Damaged No Reserve 1853 Us $1 Gold Coin 1857 One Dollar Gold Coin.........no Reserve 1857 One Dollar Gold Coin - Damaged, Previously Made Into Pendant?1852 P Liberty Head Gold Dollar Type 1 .900 Gold Coin Km# 731854 $1 Dollar Gold Indian Princess Large Head Rare Coin~type 1~w/ Jump Bail! 1855 United States Gold $1 One Dollar Indian Princess Head Ngc Au581854 G$1 Type 1 Gold Dollar1849-o $1 Gold Coin Us Dollar Circulated No Reserve1889 $1 Gold Indian Princess Head Ngc Unc Details Improperly Cleaned *hucky* 1853 $1 Dollar Gold Indian Princess Large Head Rare Coin Type 1 Early Us Gold 1853 One Dollar ($1) Liberty Head Gold Coin United StatesUnited States Gold Dollar Liberty Head Type 1 1852 Km 731853 $1.00 Gold Au 58 Anacs1852 $1.00 Liberty Head Gold Dollar Vf1849 Us $1 Gold Coin With The Whole For The Mounting1887-p Liberty Gold Dollar $1 Gold Circulated Indian Princess Large Head1853 $1 Gold Piece. Beautiful Condition. Great Luster.1851 Dollar Piece, $1 Gold Liberty, Type 1, ** Free Shipping!1852-o $1 Gold Liberty Head, Ngc Au Details, Improperly Cleaned, Us Coin1853 Gold $1 - Ngc Ms 62 - Nice Coin!Us Coin 1874 Indian Head Princess Large Head Gold Dollar Agw 0.04837 Type 31854 Gold Coin 1 Dollar 1851 Liberty Gold Dollar G$1 - Pcgs Xf45 Certified & Graded *no Reserve!U.s. $1 One Dollar Gold Love Token "fol"1853 $1 Gold Pcgs Genuine Xf Details Ex-jewelry