There are two different types of Gold dollars. The first type is coins that were minted from 1849 until 1889 and they contain 90% gold. The second type is coins minted from 2000 to the present day and they are called “golden dollars”. A reason behind that is the fact that they are all made with a copper core and an outer layer of manganese brass alloy that reminisce golden in color. However, they contain absolutely no gold whatsoever.
The modern “gold dollars” were minted in large quantities in hopes that they will become widely popular, which didn’t happen. However, these new-age golden dollar coins are considered as one of the prettiest US coins ever made, so they are very attractive to collectors and can actually be super valuable.
Even though old gold dollars can’t be found in a pocket change anymore since they aren’t in circulation you should definitely check your pocket change for some new-age golden dollars. In this article, we will take you through the gold dollar coin value list and help you learn the difference between these two types.
History Of The Real Gold Dollar Coins
Did you know that in 1791, Alexander Hamilton suggested that the U.S. mint legal-tender $1 coins in both gold and silver composition? For some reason, congress only allowed minting of the silver coins. However, the situation changed in early 1848 with the massive influx of gold from the California Gold Rush. The first $1 gold coins were struck as a regular issue in 1849.
Unfortunately, these coins lasted only until 1889 since coins were so small they weren’t convenient to use. In fact, so many people used them for ornaments or gifts that it was considered that further minting was a waste of gold.
During the Great Depression, gold reserves were so low that President Roosevelt signed executive order 6102, which required citizens to turn in gold coins. These coins were melted. Only collectors were allowed to keep numismatic or collectible pre-1933 gold coins. This is why $1 gold coins are so much valuable nowadays.
Types of Old Gold Dollars from 1849-1889
From 1849 until 1889 only three types of $1gold coins were produced for circulation. Each was designed by James B. Longacre. The first design was minted in 1849, the second one in 1855, and the third one in 1856.
Liberty Head $1 Gold Coin, Type 1 1849-1854
These were the smallest coins in the history of the US Mint. However, they were extremely popular for everyday use mainly because people tend to collect them as a souvenir or gift them since they were made from 90% gold. The coins had reeded edge and were minted in Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Charlotte, and Dahlonega.
The type 1 design features an image of Liberty’s head that faces left. Also, she is wearing a coronet with the inscription “Liberty” on her head. Thirteen stars are engraved around the portrait to represent the original 13 states. On the other side, you will find the minting date and denomination inside a wreath made of holly and berries. Engraved above and around the wreath is the name of the country, “United States of America.”
There are a few different varieties of the type 1 coin. The most important varieties are the open wreath and closed wreath coin. The original design was the one with an open wreath where you can see plenty of space between the wreath top and the number “1.” However, there is also a variety of coins that show the tops of the wreath almost touching the number 1.
Also, look for the 1849-C open wreath variety which is highly sought-after among collectors. Some of the 1849 coins are missing the tiny initial “L,” which created two more varieties, the “With L” and the “No L.” The No L coins are much more attractive to collectors.
Like with all other coins, value is based on several factors. If the coin is damaged, worn out, or altered in any way it will be worth the price of the gold content. If the coin is intact, its price will likely be a four-figure for sure. In addition, the rarer varieties your coin is the price is higher.
Indian Princess Head $1 Gold Coin Type 2
In 1855 the new design for the $1 gold coin was created, and this is what we call type 2. The obverse side features an Indian Princess image. Since the image of the princess on this coin is a bit smaller than the one on the type 3 coin, it is also known as an Indian Princess Small Head gold coin. The edge of the coin is reeded, and it was minted in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Dahlonega, New Orleans, and San Francisco.
The type 2 $1 gold coin features an image of Lady Liberty depicted as a Native American princess. She is facing left and wears a feathered headdress. Above and around the portrait the words “United States of America” are engraved.
You’ll find an agricultural wreath on the reverse side. The wreath is made from corn, cotton, wheat, and tobacco plants. Denomination and minting year are placed inside the wreath while the wreath is circled by an engraving of “United States of America”.
Considering the fact that type 2 $1 gold coins were struck only for three years there aren’t so many different varieties. However, poor strikes were common during the minting process and coins with this error are very attractive to collectors. You’ll recognize them easily, the high points on the date and the word “Dollar” are weak.
Since only about 2 million of the type two coins were ever struck these are the most valuable ones. The rarest series of these coins is the 1855-D and this coin can range from a few thousand and over five figures price for those that are in mint condition.
Indian Princess Head $1 Gold Coin Type 3
The third and last design of the $1 gold coin is type 3 which is also known as the Large Head Indian Princess. This coin was in production from 1856 until 1889. It has a reeded edge and was minted in Philadelphia, Dahlonega, Charlotte, and San Francisco Mints.
As the name says the design of the Type 2 Indian Princess coin was adjusted so the Type 3 coin features a larger portrait. This is the main reason why the coin is called a Large Head Indian Princess.
The image is the same but the relief was lowered, and the head is repositioned so the coin appears much bigger. On the reverse side, you’ll find the same wreath, inside of it it is the minting date and denomination, surrounded by “United States of America”.
There are four different varieties of the type 3 coin. Some coins were minted with a closed number 3, while some features an open 3 on the date of the coin. There are also two varieties that feature upright and slanted number 5.
Most coins that were minted in Dahlonega Mint were not struck well. The lowest minting year was 1875 with only 420 examples, Also, the 1856D and 1861D series are very rare and valuable.
Types of present-day “Gold Dollars”
Due to their enormous mintage and very limited demand these coins aren’t so valuable. In fact, for most of them, you can only get their face value – one dollar. These coins were minted from copper-clad material and they do not contain any gold in combination, so they don’t have any melting value. But there are valuable exceptions that in some cases can reach five-figure prices.
There are four different types of present-day “gold dollars”:
- Sacagawea Dollars – Minted from 2000 until 2008, and the total mintage is more than 1,451,000,000.
- Presidential Dollars – Minted from 2007 until 2016, and also in 2020. The total mintage is more than 2,526,000,000.
- Native American Dollars – Minted from 2009 and up to date. The total mintage is more than 261,000,000.
- American Innovation Dollars – Minted from 2018 and up to date. The total mintage is more than 11,000,000.
Most Valuable Gold Dollar Coin (Table Chart)
How Will The Mint State Effect The Value Of The Gold Dollar Coin?
No matter what type of coin you have its value will always depend on the current condition. Every collector tends to collect coins that are in the best possible shape. If your coin seems like it just came off the mint you can be sure it will achieve a higher price.
A coin that is in an uncirculated state and it is rare will always be more expensive especially if we talk about coins that are made with high gold content. Just like we already said the reason is that most golden coins were melted during the Great Depression and only collectors pieces remained.
There are four factors that determine the quality of a coin and those are:
- Contact marks – Make sure you inspect the coin for slight dents and scratches. Only minor marks are acceptable since they occur due to handling and manufacturing.
- Luster – Freshly minted coin will have a perfect gloss on its surface and this is important if you are collecting present-day gold dollars. You can easily check how shiny the luster is. Just expose the coin to a single light source and turn it, if a light beam appears your luster is in perfect condition. For old gold coins, the luster is mainly worn out due to handling and time, however, if the coin was kept in perfect condition some of the luster might remain.
- Eye appeal – Nothing can dictate the value and price as the general appearance of the coin. To achieve a high price range your coin must have that perfect eye-popping appeal.
Here are some of the most valuable mint grades you should pay attention to:
- Mint State (MS) 67 – A coin that is graded with MS67 is an uncirculated example. It has an excellent eye appeal, a perfect shine, and a clean and appealing strike. There can be tiny flaws such as a few minor contact marks. However, these are only visible under 8x magnification. Coins that fall into this category are incredibly scarce.
- Mint State (MS) 66 – Coins with grade MS66 retain a full mint look. These coins always have an above-average eye appeal. If there are any flaws there are no more than three or four tiny contact marks that can be seen under 8x magnification. Coins with this grade usually reach high prices.
- Mint State (MS) 65 – Coins that carry an MS65 grad feature above average brightness, however, the luster might be a bit damaged. Also, minor abrasion marks are present but they won’t diminish the coin’s aesthetic appeal.
- Mint State (MS) 64 – Coins with grade MS64 are the least valuable ones. The overall quality of these coins is fair, but the luster and strike aren’t perfect. You will see a few light touch marks or one or two heavy imperfections.
Where Should I Look For Valuable Gold Dollar Coins?
Well since some of these coins were minted in large quantities the first stop where you can look for present-day gold coins are your pockets and your wallet. However, if you are hunting for real gold dollar coins you’ll need to check online auction houses, platforms, and certified coin dealers.
As usual, we recommend you always choose safe options when it comes to trading your valuable collectibles. Make sure you purchase collectible coins from reliable sources such as:
In case you are selling your coin, you should check websites like Live Auctioneers, eBay, and Etsy to get information about the price range and demand. We do not recommend buying coins on these platforms if you aren’t well-experienced numismatics, or you don’t have a reliable dealer since no one can grant you that the coin is real.
What Sacagawea dollar coins are valuable?
Not so many Sacagawea dollars are valuable, however, some stand out with their value and price. In most cases, coins with some minting errors are among the most valuable. Here is the list of Sacagawea dollar coins you should look for:
- 2000-P Sacagawea dollar and statehood quarter mule estimated to be worth around $144,000
- 2014-D Sacagawea dollar and presidential dollar mule estimated to be worth around $84,000
- 2000-D Sacagawea dollar and South Carolina quarter mule estimated to be worth around $66,000
- 2000 Lincoln cent on Sacagawea dollar estimated to be worth around $35,000
- 2000-P Cheerios Sacagawea dollar estimated to be worth around $34,500
- 2000-P Sacagawea dollar on Susan B. Anthony planchet estimated to be worth around $16,800
- 2000-P Sacagawea dollar on Massachusetts quarter estimated to be worth around $8,800
How much gold does a Lady Liberty $1 coin consist of?
The coins that were issued from 1849 until 1889 measure 13mm across. Besides that, each coin weighs exactly 1.672 grams, of which 1.505 grams comes from pure gold.
Let’s Start The Gold Fever
Hug for gold dollar coins isn’t as easy as it may seem. This mainly depends on which type of gold dollar coins you choose to collect. If you are in search of present-day “gold dollar” coins then your task is a bit easier since most of these coins are still in circulation.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for old real gold coins be prepared to break the bank. These coins can only be bought from collectors so make sure you are okay with spending a big bucks to get them.
Hopefully, this article answered some of the questions and helped you figure out how to handle your precious coins. In case you know some information that we didn’t mention here, please do not hesitate to share your opinions and advice in the comment section below.