1862 Gold Dollar - 1862 Gold $1 NGC MS66. This Civil War dated, Premium Gem Uncirculated 1862 gold dollar is lustrous and boldly struck. Full details are present on Liberty’s hair, the word LIBERTY, the ribbon knot, and the two central numerals of the date. The dentils on both sides are also sharp and full. The surfaces are original and clean for the date with no notable individual marks worthy of mention.
James B. Longacre designed the gold dollar using the Indian head motif. It shows Liberty facing left wearing a stylized feathered headdress. It is inscribed LIBERTY on the headband. She is surrounded by the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The reverse shows an open wreath of corn, cotton, maple, and tobacco tied below with a bow. The wreath encircles the denomination, 1 DOLLAR, and the date.
The problem with the coin was that it did not strike up well. In fact mint state examples looked worn and, in some cases, so circulated that the date could not be read on the coin. This problem most affected the branch mint issues, which Longacre did not get to see until afterwards. The proofs that he saw did not have this as a problem. To remedy this situation, Longacre designed the second gold dollar that used the Indian head design. While it was similar to the previous issue, Longacre lowered the relief and moved the obverse head so as not to be opposite a reverse relief area. This coin is called the Large Size or Large Head.
Longacre was born in Pennsylvania in 1794. When he finished his apprenticeship in Philadelphia as a bookseller and a banknote engraver, he worked on his own as an engraver of book illustrations and bank notes. His works included one on the signers of the Declaration of Independence and another on stage personalities. In 1830, Longacre began a series of biographies of famous men in the military and the political arena. In 1834 the result of this series became the National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans that was published in four volumes. Longacre and those who worked with him became famous because of this work. In 1844 Longacre came to work at the Mint.
He was opposed by Franklin Peale, the Chief Coiner. Peale was probably responsible for some blundered dies that Longacre was criticized for making. Peal was involved in a private, illegal medal manufacturing business using Mint facilities. He was concerned that this new political appointee would interfere with his business, and he resisted Longacre’s appointment as Chief Engraver. Finally in 1854, Peale was fired by President Franklin Pearce. Longacre flourished in his position and was responsible for creating many new designs including the Indian Head cent, the two-cent piece, the Shield nickel, the Liberty Head gold dollar, the Indian Princess gold dollar, the three-dollar gold piece, and the Liberty Head double eagle.
Because the 1862 gold dollar is one of the most common dates of the series, it makes a particularly good type coin, especially in high Mint State grades. In its population report, NGC shows 49 in MS66 condition with 9 better.