The Type 2 Gold Dollar has the legend, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, around the edge, not stars as on the previous version. Liberty is still facing left with a coronet incused with LIBERTY. An Indian headdress was added to Liberty as a “national statement”. On the reverse is a more ornate wreath of corn, cotton, wheat and tobacco surrounding the denomination and the date. On branch Mint issues the mintmark is placed below the wreath.
The Mint knew the Type 1 Gold Dollar was just too small, and hence too easily lost or misplaced. Their answer was a coin 15% larger in diameter, but thinner so as to maintain the same gold content. The design is basically a modified version of the 1854 $3 gold piece.
The image of Liberty is taken from a Greco-Roman statue Venus Accroupie that was much admired by the designer James B. Longacre. The headdress, which gives the coin its moniker “Indian Princess Head”, has a long history in the medallic arts. This particular headdress had been used since the 1560s as a universally accepted symbol of American Indians. This coin is commonly referred to as the “Type 2 Gold Dollar”.
Longacre’s design had a technical flaw that brought about its swift demise: The obverse was designed with a very high relief. This, along with the placement of devices, led to all Type 2 Gold Dollars being weakly struck, many extremely so. Branch Mint coins were particularly deficient in strike.
Within 1 year of creation, thoughts turned to replacing the design, this time due to the striking problems. As with Type 1 Gold Dollars, banks were ordered to return the new Type 2 Gold Dollars to the Mint for melting and re-coinage. This has resulted in perhaps only 1% of the original mintages being extant. That makes all Type 2 Gold Dollars very scarce, with some being extremely rare.
Coins were minted in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans, all with reeded edges. Although only six coins are needed to for a complete set, this coin is generally collected as a Type due to the extreme expense of the 1855 C and D issues.
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