Liberty Dollars

historic gold coin icon USA flag icon Liberty Gold Dollars - the smallest gold coins ever minted by the US Mint

The US Mint produced the $1 Liberty Gold Dollars from 1849 to 1854. The coins were struck at the US Mint facilities in Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Charlotte and Dahlonega. Their composition is 90% gold and 10% copper with each coin containing 0.04837 oz of gold. About 12.6 million Liberty Dollar gold coins were minted. A total of only 7 proof coins are believed to have been minted in 1849. No additional proof coins were minted in the following years.

The obverse side of the Liberty Dollars shows a leftward facing Lady Liberty in profile. A laurel wreath tied with a bow can be seen on the reverse. Whereas the image of Lady Liberty can be seen on many other pre-1933 US gold coins as well, the reverse design is unique to this coin. However, a similar (but not identical) wreath design can be seen on the $1 Indian Gold Dollars that succeeded the Liberty version of the Gold Dollars in 1854.

obverse side of the 1849 $1 Liberty Gold Dollar coin
reverse side of the 1849 $1 Liberty Gold Dollar coin

Coin Fact Sheet

Weight Face Value Purity Diameter
0.04837 oz US $ 1 90% 13 mm

Total Mintage: 12,565,273

Design

Chief Engraver James B. Longacre of the Philadelphia Mint designed the Liberty Gold Dollar. The obverse side depicts a leftward facing Lady Liberty in profile in the style of Greco-Roman sculptures. She wears a pearl crown that has "Liberty" inscribed on it. Thirteen stars appear along the outer edge of the coin, representing the 13 original colonies of the United States of America.

However, unlike the other coins in the Liberty Head series, the Liberty Gold Dollar depicts a laurel wreath tied with a bow on its reverse side. The coin's denomination and year of mintage appears in the center. Along the coin's edge is inscribed “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”. Liberty Gold Dollars that were minted in New Orleans (mint mark: O), San Francisco (mint mark: S), Charlotte (mint mark: C) or Dahlonega (mint mark: D) contain a mint mark just below the bow at the bottom. However, coins that were minted at the main Philadelphia branch of the United States Mint don't have any mint mark.

History

Due to the California Gold Rush in the 1840's which greatly enhanced the amount of gold circulating within the economy (including gold coins minted by private minters), the American Congress approved new denominations of gold coins to be issued under the Act of March 3rd 1849. There is some dispute whether the first Liberty Gold Dollars were produced on May 7th or May 8th 1849. Around 1.000 coins were minted on the first day, including a few proof coins.

In 1849, the coins were predominantly minted with open wreaths on the reverse. However, some coins minted in Charlotte and Philadelphia that year feature the closed wreath design on the reverse that appears on all the coins from 1850 on. The flipping image above depicts an 1849 coin with an open wreath design whereas the image in the price comparison table depicts the reverse of an 1853 coin with a closed wreath.

Production of the Liberty Gold Dollars continued until 1854. The coins were the smallest gold coins (both in diameter - 13 mm - and in denomination) ever minted by the US Mint.

Even though production of the Liberty Gold Dollar lasted from 1849 to 1854, only the US Mint facilities in Philadelphia and Dahlonega produced them every year during this period.

In 1854, the Liberty Gold Dollar was replaced by the Indian Gold Dollar that featured an Indian princess.

Rare Dates

Both the open wreath and closed wreath issue of the coins minted in Charlotte in 1849 is nowadays rare to find. The coins minted there between 1850 and 1853 are very rare as well.

The coins minted in Dahlonega are rare for all the years of issue between 1849 and 1854 as well.

Mintages

Annual mintage of $1 Liberty Gold Dollars at the various US Mint branches varied between 2,935 coins (Dahlonega 1854) and 4,076,051 coins (Philadelphia 1853). Proof coins were not struck officially but at least 7 proof coins are believed to have been minted in 1849.

obverse side of the 1855 $1 Indian Gold Dollar coin
reverse side of the 1855 $1 Indian Gold Dollar coin

Indian Gold Dollars

The $1 Indian Gold Dollars succeeded the $1 Liberty Gold Dollars in 1854. The US Mint produced the new coins from 1854 to 1889. Two types of the coin exist that distinguish themselves by the size of the portrait on the obverse side. The coins were struck at the US Mint facilities in Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Charlotte and Dahlonega. Their composition is 90% gold and 10% copper with each coin containing 0.04837 oz of gold. Almost 7 million Indian Dollar gold coins were minted. The coins' obverse shows Lady Liberty wearing a Native American headdress. An agricultural wreath of corn, cotton, wheat and tobacco that is tied with a bow can be seen on the reverse.

The Indian Gold Dollar page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.