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The story of the short and ill-fated Type Two gold dollar is really a story of miscalculation on the part of Mint Engraver James Longacre. When redesigning the coin in 1854, he chose a variant of the three dollar gold piece. This is a design that Longacre repeated throughout most of his career and included not only the three dollar and Type Three gold dollars, but also included such diverse pieces as the double eagle, the Indian Head cent, the three cent nickel, several pattern nickels, and finally the pattern eagles from 1868 that he engraved only a few months before his death. Longacre's miscalculation was twofold. First, he designed Liberty's head in high relief, and second, he overestimated the power of the coining presses then in use. These miscalculations had varying effects, depending upon where the coins were struck. Pieces minted in the Philadelphia facility generally showed at least some weakness in the center of the obverse on Liberty's hair, and the corresponding area on the reverse: the LL in DOLLAR and the middle digits of the date. However, the striking definition on coins produced in Charlotte and Dahlonega was even more unsatisfactory, with only a short time in circulation necessary to unduly wear down the design elements. Clearly, something had to be done, and the design was changed again in 1856.
The dies for the Type Two gold dollar were completely hubbed except for the dates and mintmarks, which had to be entered by hand, as usual. As a result, the proofs produced the previous year and also in 1855, do not show evidence of these miscalculations. Only eight pieces have been positively pedigreed and two of those are permanently impounded, one in the Smithsonian and the other in the ANS holdings.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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