Some Unique US Gold Mint Coins

The World Gold Council’s quarterly Gold Demand Trend report stated that there was a total demand of 981.3 tonnes of gold in the first quarter of 2011. In terms of value, this demand was equivalent to $43.7 billion. The demand for physical gold bars and coins was at 366.4 tonnes, which had a value equivalent of $16.3 billion. The demand for physical bars in the first quarter of 2011 was nearly double that of the first quarter of 2010.

Among the gold coins struck by the US gold mint is the gold dollar. This was produced between 1849 and 1889 and was 90% pure gold. The gold dollar was, at the time, the lowest denomination currency coin made of gold. This coin was made because Congress wanted to increase the use of gold in the US currency. The Act of March 3, 1849 authorized the gold dollar coin and the first type to circulate was the Liberty Head.

Types of Gold Dollar Coins Issued by the US Gold Mint

Between 1849 and 1889, three types of gold dollars were made. The demand for gold coinage had increased owing to the California Gold Rush, which forced the US Mint to issue the dollar coin. There are three types of gold dollar coins:

Liberty Head type (1849-1854): It was designed by James B. Longrace. The obverse of the coin has Lady Liberty’s head encircled by thirteen stars that represented the original thirteen states of America. The head faces left and has a coronet which is inscribed with the word “Liberty”. The reverse has a simple wreath encircling the value of the coin and the date, and has the inscription “United States of America”. The coin weighs 1.672 grams and has a composition of .900 gold and .100 copper. This particular coin was minted at Philadelphia, Dahlonega, Charlotte, New Orleans and San Francisco. The Liberty Head dollar coin had a diameter of just 13 mm, officially the smallest coin in the history of US coins. It was discontinued because it was too small and could get lost easily, which was a loss due to its high purchasing value, approximately equal to $26.31 today.

Indian Head Type, Small Head (1854-1856): The Small Indian Head type dollar coin was 15mm in diameter and a considerable improvement over the Liberty Head. The coin was designed by James Longrace once again, based on his work of the three dollar coin. The obverse has what is commonly referred to as an “Indian Princess” with the same wordings inscribed on it. This is what gives the coin its name. The inscription of “United State of America” was moved to the obverse of the coin. The reverse with the wreath remained the same. Only six date mint marks were made; 1854, 1855, 1855C, 1855D, 1855O and 1856S. However, this coin was not sturdy since the height of the relief on the obverse was not good enough. And so a third coin had to be designed.

Large Head (1856-1889): A new, more durable gold dollar coin was released in 1856 by the US Mint. Designed by James Longrace again, it is called the Large Head. This was because the size of the Indian head depicted on the obverse had increased, the details of the face were altered and the location of the head dress also changed. This new coin was flatter. It was minted continuously at Philadelphia. In certain years, the coin was also made at Charlotte, Dahlonega and San Francisco. Regular production of the gold dollar coin was discontinued in 1889; however, there were commemorative issues from 1903 to 1905, 1915 to 1917 and 1917 to 1922.

Though the gold dollar was discontinued completely in 1889, owing to its age and the amount of gold in it, it remains a favorite of numismatics.