Gold Dollars – Gold Dollar Type 2 (Indian Head) 1854-1856
In 1854 the US Mint issued the redesigned gold dollar with an increased diameter of 15 mm. As planned, neither its weight not its composition was changed.
James Longacre designed a new obverse for the coin based on his work with the three-dollar piece. The head depicted on the obverse has commonly been described as an “Indian princess,” and gave this type its name. However, historians have suggested that the design is actually based on a Roman marble figure, to which a headdress was added by Longacre. More specifically, it has been suggested that he based the design on “Crouching Venus” a statue on display in the Philadelphia museum.
Photos used with permission and courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries
In addition to the obverse, the reverse of the gold dollar was also modified somewhat, and the inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” was moved to the obverse. The overall wreath design remained unchanged however. In the few years of this type’s production, only six date mint mark combinations were created: 1854, 1855, 1855C, 1855D, 1855O, and 1856S. The quantities minted in total each year were 783,943 in 1854, 824,883 in 1855, and 24,600 in 1856.
Although the diameter of the gold dollar had been considerably improved, the new Indian Head type was not free from problems. The height of the relief was such that very few of the coins produced were fully struck, and as a result the design was not sturdy enough for circulation. The Mint would have to redesign the gold dollar once again.
Designer: James Barton Longacre
Mintage: All Years 1,633,426 Proofs – Less than 35
Diameter: ±14.3 millimeters
Metal content: Gold – 90% Copper – 10%
Weight: ±25.8 grains (±1.7 grams)