"It made my heart thump for I was certain it was gold," so said James Marshall about his Sutter's Mill discovery that was to pave the way for the California Gold Rush. It was an accidental discovery which was to change the region forever, leading to its rapid development. News about Marshall's discovery spread like wildfire and over the ensuing months and years around 300,000 prospectors moved to the region, all in the thrall of gold fever. America's westward expansion was swiftly gaining momentum.
With the discovery of gold came the lobbying for more gold coinage and so in 1849, Congress authorized the production of two new gold coins, one of which was the $1 Gold Liberty Type 1. This landmark $1 coin was designed by James B Longacre, Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint, with help from Assistant Engraver Peter Filatreu Cross, who is said to have designed the reverse side.
On the obverse side, we see a left-facing profile portrait of Lady Liberty, shown wearing a beaded coronet decorated with the word LIBERTY. Her hair is partially styled in a bun, though tendrils have escaped, cascading down her neck. Liberty's portrait is surrounded by 13 stars denoting the original colonies that made up the Union. The reverse design features an olive wreath that encircles the value of 1 DOLLAR and the year of issue. Though there are variations as to how complete a circle the wreath forms between different years and mints of issue, your order will be fulfilled by a random and common year of issue, always with a mint state of 64.The lettering UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is also shown on the reverse side, while the coin's design is completed with a reeded edge.
The Type 1 $1 Gold Liberty has a diameter of 13 mm and a total weight of 1.672 grams; made of 0.900 gold, the coin is composed of 90 percent gold and 10 percent copper and it contains .04837 ounces of pure gold. This gold $1 coin was produced for a mere six years from 1849 until 1854, making it highly collectible today. These $1 coins were struck at the Philadelphia branch of the U.S Mint, plus branch mints including Dahlonega, Charlotte, New Orleans and San Francisco. Your order is likely to be fulfilled by a coin produced in Philadelphia, from a random year of issue.
Once in circulation, this coin did not prove popular with the public, drawing criticism for being too small and easily lost, slipping through people's fingers. The U.S. Mint just couldn't win. Silver dollars were castigated for being too large and weighty, nicknamed Cartwheels, while these were too small. So plans were soon made to replace the $1 Gold Liberty with a second version of the coin, carrying the same weight, but with a larger diameter. The $1 Gold Liberty Type 1 is the smallest coin ever produced in U.S. history, and the fact it was struck for so short a time makes it immensely collectible today.