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The Gold Dollar: A Small Coin With a Tremendous History

When collectors think of American one-dollar coins, the old silver version often comes to mind first. After all, from 1794 to 1935, the U.S. Mint issued a staggering quantity of these silver dollars – over a half a billion in total! However, unbeknownst to many, a one-dollar gold coin was once issued by the Mint too. From 1849 through 1889, this unusual coin was produced in extremely limited quantities.
The Gold Dollar was first considered in the late 1700's, but it came to fruition in response to the California Gold Rush. The U.S. Mint was looking for new ways to convert gold into currency – and they believed the public would appreciate a small, convenient one-dollar piece. While the coin experienced some initial success following its launch, mintages eventually dwindled to tiny amounts.
The Gold Dollar’s lifespan stretched from 1849 through 1889, during which the coin underwent two significant design changes. The result is three distinct Gold Dollar types, each of which is highly collectible in its own right. Today, we’re pleased to present you with three-coin Gold Dollar sets with each of the three design types represented. Despite the rarity and collectability of these vintage Gold Dollars, you’ll be impressed by their affordability. Even in higher grade, we’re able to deliver them at a surprisingly low price level.
But first, we’d love to fill you in on how these fascinating coins came to be…

History and Background
The idea of a gold one-dollar coin dates back to 1791, when Alexander Hamilton suggested the U.S. Mint strike this denomination in both gold and silver. Congress did not agree and only authorized the silver version in the Mint Act of 1792. The concept was revisited in the 1830's, when gold was discovered in the Appalachian Mountains. During this time, a North Carolina private minter by the name of Christopher Bechtler released his own Gold Dollars made from locally-sourced metal. This prompted the U.S. Mint to briefly reconsider issuing an official Gold Dollar.
All of this changed with the discovery of gold in California. In 1848 and 1849, an enormous amount of the yellow metal was entering the marketplace (and the U.S. Mint for conversion into coinage). This situation renewed calls for additional gold denominations, including a one-dollar piece. Congress authorized the Gold Dollar swiftly, and the U.S. Mint quickly assigned the task of designing the coin to James B. Longacre.

Type 1 Gold Dollar

This version is known as the ‘Type 1’ and was produced from 1849 through 1854. The obverse of this coin was virtually identical to that of the Double Eagle, which was also introduced in 1849. The public reacted favorably to the design. It was regarded as pleasant and very attractive. Although there was one major complaint: the coin was too small. At just 12.7 mm in diameter, the gold dollar was quite difficult to handle. In fact, the Type One Gold Dollar holds the record of the smallest U.S. coin in terms of diameter!
Longacre decided the solution was to make the Gold Dollar wider in terms of diameter but thinner. Not only was the coin enlarged, but the obverse and reverse designs were tweaked too. The obverse portrait showed a native American princess, while the reverse displayed a new, modified wreath. The revamped design, known as the Type 2, fixed one issue but unfortunately created another.

Type 2 Gold Dollar

The new, thinner Gold Dollar was decidedly larger (14.3 mm vs 12.7 mm) but was plagued by weak strikes. The high points, date, and two “Ls” in “DOLLAR” are usually seen with incomplete definition. The Mint gave up on this design rather quickly; the Type 2 only lasted from 1854 to 1856 and James Longacre was forced to redesign the coin yet again

Type 3 Gold Dollar

The third and final Gold Dollar version, known as the Type 3, was introduced in 1856. It was the same diameter as the Type 2, but the design format was changed to strike the coin more evenly. Its design is virtually identical to the Three Dollar Gold piece of 1854-1856. Longacre’s modifications proved largely successful, as most Type 3 Gold Dollars (especially those produced in Philadelphia) are superbly struck with virtually complete design detail.
As a circulating coin, the Gold Dollar was much more popular than its silver cousin in the 1850's. Even though some complained the coin was too small, it was much lighter and more convenient than the bulky silver dollar. Numismatists can tell that the coin was used extensively, as many Gold Dollars from this era are heavily worn. A typical specimen from this era is most likely to grade Very Fine 20 to perhaps Extremely Fine 40.
Despite being a staple of daily commerce in the 1850's, the Gold Dollar faded into obscurity after the Civil War. Thanks to the powerful Nevada silver lobby, Gold Dollar production dropped off and Silver Dollar mintages skyrocketed during this period. The Gold Dollar eventually turned into more of a novelty piece than an everyday unit of exchange. For this reason, Gold Dollars from the 1870's and 1880's typically possess minimal wear or no signs of circulation whatsoever.
Almost immediately after the denomination was phased out in 1889, the Gold Dollar became a popular collectible. This trend continues to this day. Collectors are attracted to the Gold Dollar for its affordable price point, attractive design and intriguing backstory. The fact it was issued in three different types makes it even more alluring.

Today's Offer
We are offering a limited quantity of three-coin Gold Dollar type sets. Each trio contains one of each of the following three Gold Dollar versions:
  1. Type 1 Gold Dollar struck between 1850 and 1854. This was the first iteration of the denomination, which had to be redesigned due to complaints that it was small and difficult to handle.
  2. Type 2 Gold Dollar struck between 1854 and 1856. This version was James Longacre’s enlarged, yet problem-prone design. The Type 2 Gold Dollar is one of the rarest and shortest-lived coinage types. It was only struck between 1854 and 1856.
  3. Type 3 Gold Dollar struck between 1856 and 1859. Although this type was struck until 1889, the coins in these sets are dated from the Gold Rush era. These earlier dates are scarcer than the most common Type 3 dates (1862, 1874 and 1889).
Type 1 Gold DollarEach coin in these three-coin sets is graded About Uncirculated 50 by PCGS or NGC. As such, they display minimal signs of wear, traces of mint luster, and near-complete design detail. This is an especially lofty grade level for Type 1 and Type 2 Gold Dollars, which are frequently seen with heavy circulation and/or issues like cleaning and damage. These two versions are especially challenging to locate with problem-free surfaces.

Your cost for each Three-Coin Gold Dollar (1849-1889) Sets in AU50 is just $1,499 each.

You might ask if that is the price per coin, but this is your cost per three-coin set! We think you’ll agree: Gold Dollars represent one of the very best values in the vintage U.S. gold field. This is especially true in light of their rarity, historical significance, and fascinating backstory.
Whether you’re a Gold Rush specialist, a type collector, or simply want to add something unique to your collection, these three-coin Gold Dollar sets represent an excellent opportunity. The chance to own a mini-collection of vintage U.S. gold coins for just $1,499 rarely presents itself.

Call us at 800-831-0007, or by email at to take advantage of this highly unusual offering – and own one of America’s most intriguing gold coins at a surprisingly affordable level!
*Prices subject to change based on market fluctuation and product availability. Prices reflected are for cash, check, or bank wire. Free shipping, handling, and insurance are available for all quantities ordered. Offer expires Friday, January 8, 2021 or while supplies last.

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