Indian Gold Dollar Type III
- 90% Gold; 10% Copper
- Design by James Longacre
- 14.3 mm; .04835 oz.; pure gold
- Mintage: 1856-1889
When charged with replacing the ill-fated Type II Gold Dollar, James B. Longacre sought a way to preserve the coin’s beautifully intricate design while eliminating the production difficulties that brought about its early demise.
Longacre’s challenge was to reduce the relief with only a minimal loss of detail. He first enlarged the bust of Liberty on the obverse and the lettering and devices on the reverse. After flattening both sides, Longacre restored lost detail using fine engraving.
Longacre insisted on single handedly making the original dies and the hubs for the working dies to ensure quality production, even using the outdated machinery in the Southern mints. The failure of his previous design led to considerable criticism and called into question his fitness for the position of Chief Engraver. He later explained that his motive for undertaking several weeks of “very close and incessant labor” was to “silently reply to those who had questioned my ability for the work.” In a classic understatement Longacre assessed the fruits of his labor: “The result, I believe, was satisfactory.”
It was indeed. Mintage of the Type III Gold Dollar ran unbroken for the next 33 years, surviving the Civil War and the taming of the West. The denomination was discontinued after the final mintage of 30,729 was struck in Philadelphia in 1889.
A total of 5,337,244 Type III Gold Dollars were produced, all but 85,753 in the Philadelphia Mint and the rest in Charlotte, Dahlonega, and San Francisco. Roughly one-third of the total mintage was struck in the first year, shrinking to less than nine percent over the final two decades.
In all there were 47 distinct mintages of the Type III Gold Dollar, producing many rarities. Perhaps the most intriguing was struck by the Confederacy in 1861 at the seized Dahlonega Mint. Only an estimated 1,250 were produced and today they sell from about $20,000 (VF) to over $100,000 (MS63).
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