Gold Indian Princess Dollars Coins.

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The Indian Princess Gold Dollar was a series of gold coins minted by the United States from 1854 to 1889. The series represented the second series for the denomination. The obverse design of the coin features a figure of Liberty, whose head is smaller than on the Type One Gold Dollars. The Indian Princess Gold Dollar was only the third of gold dollar coins that the US Mint had released. The Indian Princess Gold Dollar was modified in 1856, and the obverse design was changed to a larger head. The Type 3 gold dollar’s size was increased to make it easier to strike and to improve its durability. The Indian Princess Gold Dollar is a rare, valuable, and historical collection piece.

In addition to the Indian Princess Gold Dollar, there were also $3 Princess Gold Coins minted from 1854 to 1889. These coins have an odd denomination, stunning design, and extraordinary scarcity, which is why they have long been coveted additions to US gold coin collections. Mintages of $3 Princess gold coins are extremely low for most years, often less than 5,000 pieces, and almost all were made at the Philadelphia Mint. Very few Mint State examples of $3 Princess gold coins survive from any but the two commonest dates, and even these are extraordinarily scarce.

The Gold Indian Princess Head dollar is the predecessor to the Liberty Head gold dollar, and there are two kinds. While both were designed by James Longacre, they are different. There is one version of the coin minted with a small head and one version minted with a larger head and one with a smaller head has slight variations on the back.

Gold Dollars (1849-1889) underwent significant changes over their three distinct types. The smallest coin in U.S. history, their origins are linked to the early 19th-century gold rushes in the Carolinas and Georgia. These gold rushes influenced the establishment of branch mints and a boost in federal gold coin production.

  • Type 1 (1849-1854): The first gold dollars were privately minted in the early 1830s by a jeweler named Alt Christoph Bechtler in North Carolina, spurring a call for government-issue gold dollars. The official gold dollar came into existence in 1849 due to the California Gold Rush. Designed by James Barton Longacre, it featured a “Liberty Head” and came in two varieties, “open” and “closed” wreath. Production occurred at various mints, with Philadelphia and Dahlonega minting them annually, while the others produced them less consistently. Mintages varied, with some years having very low production. Type 1 gold dollars are scarce but available in circulated grades, while proofs are quite rare.
  • Type 2 (1854-1856) In response to issues with the small size and high relief of Type 1 gold dollars, a new design was introduced. James Ross Snowden oversaw the change, resulting in a larger but flatter “Indian Head” design. Type 2 gold dollars had relief issues, resulting in most coins being less than fully struck. Mintages were modest, and branch mints played a role in their production. The Type 2 was short-lived, with Philadelphia and the new San Francisco mint being the primary producers. The coins are rare, especially in high-grade condition.
  • Type 3 (1856-1889) Type 3 gold dollars came into existence in 1856 with a larger and flatter “Indian Head” design, addressing the size and striking issues of Type 2. Mintages peaked in the early years, particularly as worn-out gold coins were being recoined. Mints in Charlotte and Dahlonega were closed due to the Civil War, leaving Philadelphia and San Francisco as the primary producers. After 1862, production dropped significantly. Type 3 gold dollars are more common in high-grade condition, and many collectors seek these coins, including those with the Eliasberg pedigree.

The one with the larger head was designed because the smaller headed coin was often too thin and not completely minted making it unsuitable for popular circulation. In addition, the 1856 gold Indian Princess head coin had a longer life – this coin was minted from 1856 all the way up to 1889. It was minted in all of the open mints at the time, until the Civil War created dissension in the South and minting there stopped.

A total of 19,499,337 gold dollars were produced in the 19th century, with the majority (18,223,438) minted in Philadelphia, and smaller quantities in New Orleans, Charlotte, San Francisco, and Dahlonega. The February 1899 edition of The Numismatist noted the continuing demand for these gold dollars, valued at $1.80 each, often used for gifts and jewelry.

In 1905, an incident was reported where a bank credited an account with only $1.60 per gold dollar, but by 1908, dealers were willing to pay $2 for each, reflecting the growing interest in coin collecting.

As coin collecting gained popularity, gold dollars remained in demand. Even in 2014, they held value, with Type 1 Philadelphia issues from 1849 to 1853 worth $300 in very fine condition. Type 2 (1854 and 1855 issues) was the most expensive at $350 in the same condition, while the other two types were valued at $300.

The Indian Princess Gold Dollar faced limited production initially, leading to scarce issues. During the Civil War, production shifted to Philadelphia, except for a single San Francisco issue. Despite generally low mintages, these coins had higher survival rates, making them accessible to collectors.

The highest mintage occurred in 1856 in Philadelphia, with 1,762,936 pieces struck, while the lowest point was in 1875, with only 400 pieces for circulation. The series and denomination ended in 1889. The rarest type of Indian Princess Gold Dollars is the Type 2, Indian Princess, Small Head. In Mint State, the Type Two Gold Dollar is scarce to rare, and in Gem condition, it is highly desirable. Only about 2 million Type 2 Indian Princess Gold Dollars were ever struck, making them the scarcest of the $1 gold coins today. The Type 3 Indian Princess Gold Dollars are also rare, but the rarest and most desirable dates in this series are the 1856-D and 1861-D, both of which are innately rare and especially difficult to locate in Mint State2. The Type 3 Indian Princess Gold Dollars are easy to find in MS-65 and even higher grades3. The $3 Indian Princess Gold Coins are also rare, with mintages of less than 5,000 pieces for most years, and almost all were made at the Philadelphia Mint

Here are the mintage levels for circulation strike issues of the series:

  • 1856: 1,762,936 pieces
  • 1875: 400 pieces

The series and denomination concluded in 1889.

IssueMintage
1854783,943
1855758,269
1855-C9,803
1855-D1,811
1855-O55,000
1856-S24,600
18561,762,936
1856-D1,460
1857774,789
1857-C13,280
1857-D3,533
1857-S10,000
1858117,995
1858-D3,477
1858-S10,000
1859168,244
1859-C5,235
1859-D4,952
1859-S15,000
186036,514
1860-D1,566
1860-S13,000
1861527,150
1861-DEstimated 1,250
18621,361,355
18636,200
18645,900
18653,700
18667,100
18675,200
186810,500
18695,900
18706,300
1870-S3,000
18713,900
18723,500
1873125,100
1874198,800
1875400
18763,200
18773,900
18783,000
18793,000
18801,600
18817,620
18825,000
188310,800
18845,230
188511,156
18865,000
18877,500
188815,501
188928,950

what is the difference between Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 Indian Princess Gold Dollars

The Gold Indian Princess Head dollar was otherwise your standard gold dollar. At ninety percent gold and ten percent either silver or copper, the coin still weighed as much as the Liberty Head and the smaller version of the Indian Princess, a mere 1.7 grams. The diameter of the large head liberty coin was 14.3 millimeters and has receded edges. The modified bust of the Indian Princess’ head was a little larger and bolder than its predecessor while the wreath on the back remained the same. There were over a million minted in the thirty years that the coin was on the market, and while other “gold” coins have been minted since then, the Gold Indian Princess Head dollar with the large style head on it was the last precious metal coin of its kind minted in the United States.

The Indian Princess Gold Dollar was minted in three different types, each with its unique design and characteristics. Here are the differences between Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3.

Indian Princess Gold Dollars: Type 1:

  • Minted from 1849 to 1854
  • Features a portrait of Miss Liberty, which is identical to the one used on the $20 double eagle
  • The smallest of the three types, with a diameter of only 13mm
  • Used often in everyday change and most examples seen today show wear

Type 2:

  • Minted from 1854 to 1856
  • Features an Indian Princess image on the obverse and a wreath on the reverse
  • The diameter was increased to 15mm to make the coin more convenient to handle
  • Poor strikes were common due to the high-relief design of the coin
  • Scarcest of the $1 gold coins today, with only about 2 million ever struck

Type 3:

  • Minted from 1856 to 1889
  • Features a modified portrait of an Indian Princess, with a larger head than Type 2
  • The obverse design was changed to make it easier to strike and to improve its durability
  • The same size as Type 2, so the difference is in the style and size of the head
  • Easy to find in MS-65 and even higher grades
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