GOLD DOLLAR NGC MS64 Click on Coin Image to
Rare 1860-D Gold $1 NGC MS64 -
This exceedingly rare Southern
branch mint, Mint State 1860-D Gold Dollar is tied
for the finest at NGC and none at PCGS. Researchers
estimate that about 100 exist today in all conditions.
In its population report, NGC shows 1 1860-D Gold
Dollar in MS64 condition.
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Light abrasion, consistent with the
grade, keeps it from a high Mint State grade. The
surfaces of this 1860-D Gold Dollar are original and
clean, for the grade, with no notable marks or distractions
worthy of mention. Muted mint luster is seen within
the devices on both sides of this 1860-D Gold Dollar
The strike is poor, as are all gold
dollars of this date and mint. Garrett and Guth call
this date, “…one of the most poorly produced
of all coins minted at the Dahlonega Mint….The
U of UNITED is missing on every specimen … that
the authors have seen. The N is also sometimes very
weak or missing entirely.” On the present specimen,
the N is visible in its entirety and the U is partially
visible. Many of the design elements of both sides
of the coin show doubling.
The discovery of gold in the early
1800’s led to the establishment of two of the
Southern branch mints, Charlotte North Carolina and
Dahlonega Georgia. In 1835 an act of Congress mandated
that these two branch mints would coin only gold.
The New Orleans Mint also opened to handle gold from
Mexico. In 1838 the first Dahlonega gold coins were
made, and they were the Classic Head half eagle type.
Because of the local alloy’s high silver content,
Dahlonega gold coins often have a green-gold cast.
They are also often weakly struck on irregular planchets.
Dahlonega gold coins are eagerly sought by collectors
and investors because of their low mintages and rarity.
Modern D mint coins should not be confused with Dahlonega
coins. Today a coin bearing the D mintmark was minted
in Denver, which began production in 1906.
The discovery of gold on Cherokee
land in Georgia caused a large group of miners to
come to the frontier town of Auraria, which is now
Lumpkin County, Georgia. Its name derives from aurum,
the Latin word for gold. Soon Dahlonega, which meant
“yellow money” in Cherokee, would become
the county seat. The miners’ need to convert
oar and dust into bullion led to the establishment
of private coiners, including the Bechtlers and Templeton
Reid; however, because of a lack of standardization,
there was pressure for a federal coinage to be created.
The federal branch mint at Dahlonega was established
to meet this need.
A building was erected in the town
of Dahlonega. Power for its coining equipment came
from steam produced in a boiler in the basement. Two
small steam driven presses were on the first floor
just above the boiler room. They could produce one
coin per second. Because of the small size of the
presses, the largest coins produced were half eagles.
On April 21, 1838 the Dahlonega Mint
produced its first coinage, 80 half eagles. In that
year 20,583 half eagles were minted in Dahlonega.
The first quarter eagle was made the next year in
The mint worked as a refinery for
gold deposits. People would bring in dust, nuggets,
bars, and foreign coins. They would then be refined
to establish their value. Silver that naturally occurred
in the Georgia gold was not removed from the oar because
the gold was more pure than the standard 90% fine.
After the gold was coined, it could be picked up by
Most of the gold deposited at Dahlonega
took place in the 1840’s. The discovery of gold
in California brought in deposits of new gold; however,
in 1854 the San Francisco Mint opened, and the California
gold that had been deposited in Georgia diminished.
In January of 1861, Georgia seceded from the Union.
Coins produced later in that year were made for the
Confederacy. Since the same dies were used when the
Mint was in Federal control, the coinage produced
cannot be distinguished today. After the mint closed
in June, it became a Confederate assay office for
the rest of the Civil War.
The so called Indian Princess Head
gold dollar was designed by James Longacre and minted
from 1854 to 1889. The first, which is actually Type
2 because there was a prior Liberty Head gold dollar,
was issued until 1856. The second Indian Princess
gold dollar, Type 3, was minted from 1856 to 1889.
The Type 2 gold dollar showed a head
of Liberty facing left wearing a stylized feathered
headdress. It is inscribed LIBERTY on the headband.
She is surrounded by the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The reverse shows an open wreath of corn, cotton,
maple, and tobacco tied below with a bow. The wreath
encircles the denomination, 1 DOLLAR, and the date.
The problem with the coin was that it did not strike
up well. In fact mint state examples looked worn and,
in some cases, so circulated that the date could not
be read on the coin. This problem most affected the
branch mint issues, which Longacre did not get to
see until afterwards. The proofs that he saw did not
have this as a problem. To remedy this situation,
Longacre designed the Type 3 gold dollar. While the
design was similar to the previous issue, Longacre
lowered the relief and moved the obverse head so as
not to be opposite a reverse relief area. This coin
is called the Large Size or Large Head.