The California gold rush was the primary reason for the introduction of the gold dollar, but an official United States Mint facility did not open in San Francisco until 1854. Production that year would focus exclusively on gold coins. From total coin production of 364,866 pieces, only 14,632 were gold dollars which were desperately need for circulation. At the time, change was scarce and smaller transactions were usually in the form of gold dust.
The 1854-S Liberty Head Gold Dollar (Buy on eBay) comes from the inaugural year of production at San Francisco and thus carries some allure with collectors. A number of uncirculated examples have survived, suggesting that these pieces may have been saved shortly after their original issue due to their historic status. Gems for this issue remain very rare with one of the finest known pieces sold for $33,000 back in 1997.
- Designer: James B. Longacre
- Composition: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
- Weight: 1.672 grams
- Diameter: 13 mm
- Edge: Reeded