Learn About James B Longacre and the $3 Gold Indian Princess
The Three Dollar Gold piece was designed by Chief Engraver of the US Mint James B. Longacre. Authorized by the Act of Congress of February 21, 1853, the Act authorized the production of Three Dollar coins to compete in international trade.
Longacre’s coin depicted an allegorical presentation of Miss Liberty, facing left, wearing a Native American headdress. Around Miss Liberty would be the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” The reverse of the coin would feature an agricultural wreath (Wheat, corn, cotton and tobacco) with the denomination inside “3 DOLLARS” on two lines and below the denomination would be the DATE.
The Philadelphia Mint struck 138,618 coins that initial year (1854) while Dahlonega struck a minuscule 1,120 coins and the New Orleans mint struck 24,000 pieces. Dies were sent to the Charlotte Mint but they were not used for some inexplicable reason. Although the three southern mints had access to the dies, no additional coins were struck by them. The San Francisco Mint fared only marginally better as it struck 6,600 coins with an S mintmark in 1855, 34,500 coins in 1856, 14,000 coins in 1857, 7,000 coins in 1860 and only ONE coin is known to have been struck in 1870!
The main mint in Philadelphia, after its initial striking of over one hundred thousand coins in 1854, curtailed production considerably and quickly. 1856 had 26,010 coins struck, 1857 had 20,891 minted, 1858 fell off to 2,133 coins, 1859 upped production to 15,558 pieces and 1869 minted only 7,036 coins. Between 1860 and 1870, Philadelphia production dropped to less than 10,000 pieces annually. The coins were not in demand in the urban East and circulated little in the West, except some in California, where all gold coins were scarce and welcomed. The American public thought it too close in size and value to the much more well-established $2.50 Dollar Quarter Eagle, so the coin was actively shunned.
Between the 1870s and 1889, the last year of striking, only two years saw more than 6,000 coins struck with 41,800 coins dated 1874 and 82,304 coins that were dated 1878. These are the two “common years” but none are actually common as even these two dates were melted in quantity by the Mint when the coins were redeemed. 1881, 1883 and 1885 each saw mintages of less than one thousand coins making them scarcer dates for today’s collectors.
|Date||Type||Mintage||Very Fine Value||Unc Value|
|1855-S to 1864||Indian Princess||34,500 to 2,630||$1,250||$20,000|
|1866 to 1872||Indian Princess||4,850 to 1,300||$1,200||$12,500|
|1873 Open 3||Indian Princess||Unknown||$17,500||$40,000|
|1873 Close 3||Indian Princess||Unknown||$5,500||$60,000|
|1874 to 1889||Indian Princess||82,304 to 2,300||$1,000||$4,000|
Expand your collection today and shop our assortment of $3 Gold Indian Princess Coins (1854-1889).