1854 Indian Princess $3 Gold PCGS MS66+. - $34,950. Click on Coin Image to
Satin Surfaces. 1st year of issue. This Gem 1854 Three
Dollar Gold piece has a sharp strike and full mint luster.
Full details are on the tips of the feathers in the
headdress, the hair below the LIBERTY band, the central
numerals of the date, and the ribbon knot. The surfaces
are original and clean with no individual distractions
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James Longacre designed
the 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 head of 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.
The reverse of the
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 a 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.
James Barton Longacre
was born in Pennsylvania in 1794. When he finished his
apprenticeship in Philadelphia as a bookseller and a
banknote engraver, he worked on his own as an engraver
of book illustrations and bank notes. His works included
one on the signers of the Declaration of Independence
and another on stage personalities. In 1830, Longacre
began a series of biographies of famous men in the military
and the political arena.
In 1834 the result
of this series became the National Portrait Gallery
of Distinguished Americans that was published in four
volumes. Longacre and those who worked with him became
famous because of this work. In 1844 Longacre came to
work at the Mint. He was opposed by Franklin Peale,
the Chief Coiner. Peale was probably responsible for
some blundered dies that Longacre was criticized for
making. Peal was involved in a private, illegal medal
manufacturing business using Mint facilities.
He was concerned that
this new political appointee would interfere with his
business, and he resisted Longacre’s appointment
as Chief Engraver. Finally in 1854, Peale was fired
by President Franklin Pearce. Longacre flourished in
his position and was responsible for creating many new
designs including the Indian Head cent, the two-cent
piece, the Shield nickel, the Liberty Head gold dollar,
the Indian Princess gold dollar, the three-dollar gold
piece, and the Liberty Head double eagle.