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THREE DOLLAR GOLD - THREE DOLLARS (1854-1889)
Three Dollar Gold
Three Dollar Gold - Longacre's Three Dollar Gold (1854 - 1889): Of all the gold coin series, Longacre's Three Dollar Gold is in many ways the least complex. There was just one major design, the Indian Princess motif, and the coins were produced continuously from 1854 to 1889. In the first year a variety was made in that all the coins have the word DOLLARS in small letters, and in 1873 there were Open and Closed 3’s in the date.

James Longacre designed the Three Dollar Gold coin using the Indian Princess for his main device. He had to create a motif for the Three Dollar Gold coin that would be distinctly different from the quarter and half eagle coronet designs. The design, similar to his Gold Dollar Large Head, shows a Caucasian Liberty facing left in profile wearing a stylized headdress. Inscribed on the headband is LIBERTY. She is surrounded by the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. In using the Indian Princess design, Longacre felt that he was creating something that was uniquely American rather than an adoption from the classics. How ironic, from a modern perspective, that Longacre choose a Native American theme to be emblematic of Liberty considering the treatment they received at the hands of the white man. The reverse of the Three Dollar Gold piece shows an open wreath of corn, cotton, wheat, and tobacco tied at the bottom with a bow. The denomination 3 appears at the top center of the wreath, with DOLLARS and the date below within the wreath. Longacre liked the wreath design so much that he adopted it for use on the small cent of 1856.

In 1851 a law was passed that authorized a three cent piece and also made the postage rate three cents. Two years later a new law was passed authorizing a light weight silver three cent coin and Three Dollar Gold coin. Evidently lawmakers believed that the gold coin would be useful to buy rolls of three cent coins and sheets of stamps. Its closeness to the quarter eagle, which was widely used, made the denomination somewhat illogical, and the public proved indifferent to them.

In 1854 the first and largest mintage was produced. Many were saved as souvenirs. Others briefly circulated and ended up being used for jewelry. Only 1854 had smaller letters in DOLLARS. The other dates all have large letters for the denomination. Mintages were limited after 1854. The 1873 issue had two varieties, an open 3, which was the original, and a closed 3. In 1872 dies with closed 3 were made for all denominations. Chief Coiner Snowden complained that the 3 could easily be taken for an 8. New dies were prepared with open 3’s.

Mintages for the Three Dollar Gold range from a high of 138,000 in 1854 to 500 in 1881, although the mintage of the 1873 Close 3 is unknown. In their population reports, the two major grading services show a combined total of 110 pieces certified, but this number does not account for resubmissions and crossovers.

Specifications:
Edge: Reeded
Weight: 5.015 grams (77.4 grains) (.1612 troy ounces)
Diameter: 20.5 millimeters
Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper
Gold Content: 4.514 grams (69.663 grains) (.1451 troy ounces)

 

Three Dollar Gold
DATE NOTES
1854 Three Dollar Gold Highest mintage of the series; most common in AU grades but available up to MS64; rare in Gem and above grades.
1854-D Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date; only one of series at Dahlonega Mint; all show poor strikes with weak dentils; prohibitively rare in Mint State, none certified higher than MS62.
1854-O Three Dollar Gold Only one of series at New Orleans; easy to obtain in circulated grades; exceedingly rare in Mint State, none certified higher than MS63.
1855 Three Dollar Gold Usually well struck; rare in MS64 and above.
1855-S Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date; one of the first coins struck at San Francisco Mint; scarce in all grades, prohibitively rare in Mint State.
1856 Three Dollar Gold Often with weakness on wreath bow and U; common in circulated grades, scarce in Mint State, none certified above MS65.
1856-S Three Dollar Gold Small and medium S varieties exist; available in circulated grades, rare in Mint State, none certified above MS64.
1857 Three Dollar Gold Common in circulated grades; die clashing commonplace, exceedingly rare above MS63.
1857-S Three Dollar Gold Scarce in all grades; prohibitively rare in Mint State.
1858 Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date; rare in all grades, exceedingly rare in Mint State.
1859 Three Dollar Gold Sometimes weakly struck on the 8 and 5 as well as the bow knot; often with clash marks or striations; scarce in most grades, rare above MS64.
1860 Three Dollar Gold Usually well struck with frosty surfaces; scarce in all grades, rare above MS63.
1860-S Three Dollar Gold 7,000 were minted, but 2,592 were melted by the Mint. Second rarest date of group; scarce in circulated condition, prohibitively rare in Mint State.
1861 Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date; often with clash marks or die striations; available in lower Mint State grades, exceedingly rare above MS63.
1862 Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date; often seen with clash marks or heavy die striations; exceedingly rare above MS63.
1863 Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date;
1864 Three Dollar Gold Very low mintage date;
1865 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date; rare Restrikes exist of the Proofs.
1866 Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date;
1867 Three Dollar Gold Very low mintage date.
1868 Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date; varieties show traces of over dating.
1869 Three Dollar Gold Very low mintage date; varieties show traces of over dating.
1870 Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date;
1870-S Three Dollar Gold One of the greatest rarities in all of numismatics; only one example has ever appeared on the market - it sold for $687,500 in 1982; included in 100 Greatest U.S. Coins.
1871 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date;
1872 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date;
1873 Three Dollar Gold Exceedingly low mintage date; Open and Closed 3 varieties.
1874 Three Dollar Gold  
1875 Three Dollar Gold Only Proofs were struck this year.
1876 Three Dollar Gold Only Proofs were struck this year.
1877 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date;
1878 Three Dollar Gold Varieties show traces of overdating.
1879 Three Dollar Gold Very low mintage date;
1880 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date;
1881 Three Dollar Gold Exceedingly low mintage date;
1882 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date;
1883 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date;
1884 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date;
1885 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date;
1886 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date;
1887 Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date;
1888 Three Dollar Gold Low mintage date;
1889 Three Dollar Gold Extremely low mintage date;
Three Dollar Gold For Sale


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Three Dollars - Three Dollar Gold - Longacres Three Dollar Gold (1854 - 1889)

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