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1854-D Three Dollar, AU58
Rare Dahlonega Three, Extremely Rare in High Grades

1854-D $3 AU58 NGC. Variety 1-A. The 1854 launch of the new three dollar gold piece, designed by Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre with the Indian Princess motif, was accompanied by the largest mintage that the odd denomination would ever see; the vast majority of the first-year pieces were struck in Philadelphia, at 138,618 coins. Two branch mints, Dahlonega and New Orleans, would also strike smaller quantities for the series debut. New Orleans struck a healthy mintage of 24,000 coins, then never again struck the denomination. Dahlonega produced 1,120 pieces and then also withdrew from the series.

The Dahlonega total would remain the low-water mark within the series for more than two decades, until the 1880 issue saw a mintage of an even 1,000 coins. The 1854-D three dollar gold today is quite rare (as it was on the day it was issued), and a piece such as this near-Mint State coin represents a major offering of one of the acknowledged and sought-after keys to the series. Bowers estimates that 115 to 160 examples of the 1854-D survive today, among them only two to four Mint State examples. (The certified populations must be largely discounted; given the vast incentive to obtain an MS60 or finer grade versus an AU58, or a one-point bump at the Mint State level, it appears that the numbers are highly inflated.)

Doug Winter, in the newly published third edition of Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861, enumerates four examples of the 1854-D in Mint State: the Bass MS63 raw coin; two MS62 pieces, including an MS62 NGC coin that we offered in ANA Signature (Heritage, 4/2006), lot 1516, which brought $149,500; and the ex: Green Pond coin, MS61 PCGS, which we handled in our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2004), lot 1037, where it brought $92,000. That last piece later traded in a Goldberg's auction (9/2008), lot 1232, where it realized $126,500.

The last AU58 example we offered, also certified by NGC, brought $49,937.50 in our Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2013), lot 4478. This specimen shows deep, beautiful reddish-orange color and surfaces that immediately pus the coin into "PQ" territory, a premium-quality piece with no major drawbacks. The strike softness on the hair around the ear and on the feather plumes is universal for the issue, as are the doubling on TED and the weakness on U. A few stray scrapes on the slab must not be confused with marks on the coin, which are few and insignificant. Remembering the inflated population data, Census: 24 in 58, 9 finer (9/13).(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 25M4, PCGS# 7970)

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Auction Dates
November, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 627

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