Type 2, Indian Princess, Small Head

Obverse of 1856-S Gold Dollar
Reverse of 1856-S Gold Dollar

Ron Guth: The revision of the $1 gold piece in 1854 coincided with the issuance of the $3 gold piece, both of which were designed by James Barton Longacre (more widely known for his Indian Cent design). The obverse design shows a figure of Liberty, whose head is actually smaller than on the Type One Gold Dollars, but the effect is the same because of the addition of the Indian headdress. The reverse is a nearly exact copy of the Flying Eagle Cent, and was used also on the $3 gold piece. Overall, the diameter of the Type Two Gold Dollar is larger than the Type One, but because the weight remained the same, the thickness was necessarily reduced.

This type suffers from poor strikes, often with weakness on the high points, the date and the two L's of DOLLAR. On the other hand, this tyoe enoys widespread demand from type collectors, especially those attempting to complete gold type sets.

The problems encountered with the design forced a design change in 1856, after which the Type Three was issued.

Honors for the rarest date in this series belong solely to the 1855-D, a truly scarce, low-mintage date. The "most common date" status is shared with the 1854 and 1855, both from the Philadelphia Mint.

In Mint State, the Type Two Gold Dollar is scarce to rare; in Gem condition, it is highly desirable. As of this writing, PCGS has certified only six examples at the MS-67 level, with none finer. Proof examples are known of the 1854 and 1955 dates; all are exceedingly rare.