Check Out Our CURRENT INVENTORY by clicking HERE.

 By Appointment Only

$3 Indian Princess Gold Coins – Unique, Low Mintage Coins Collectors Love

$3 Indian Princess Gold Coins – Unique, Low Mintage Coins Collectors Love

The $3 Indian Princess gold coin is among the most unusual types of coinage in U.S. history. Not only does this coin have an unusual denomination, but it also has an intriguing design. Just as appealing for coin collectors is the low mintage of these pre-1933 gold coins.

Here’s some information you need to know before you buy or sell these rare coins.

History of $3 Indian Princess Gold Coins

The $3 Indian Princess gold coins have a strange history. In 1832, a New York Congressman suggested adding smaller coins to the then $10 Eagle gold coins to promote the circulation of U.S. coins. Then, the U.S. Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1834, but it did not include authorization for a $3 coin.

That might have been the end of the $3 coin, but then, something seemingly unrelated revived the idea. Postage stamps were reduced to 3 cents each in 1851. The 3-cent pieces were authorized to make buying these stamps easier.

A new bill in 1853 authorized a 3 dollar gold coin. The reason for the new denomination seemed to be to facilitate the purchase of sheets of 3-cent stamps.

Although the story above has been told by many numismatic historians, not all numismatists agree. Some say that the entire reason for the coin was simply that there was an abundant supply of gold from the Gold Rush in California.

Indian Princess Design

Mint engraver James B. Longacre was tasked with creating a design for the $3 gold coin. His first assignment did not include directions about what kind of design to create. Many earlier coins had used Roman and Greek-style figures, but Longacre thought this coin should have an American image.



$3 Princess gold coin - Obverse

Longacre’s obverse design featured Lady Liberty, basing the image on a statue called “Crouching Venus.” The engraver gave Liberty a type of headdress or bonnet that was popularly associated with Native American women at that time. Around the Indian Princess’s head, the words “United States of America.”


$3 princess reverse

The reverse of the coin was nearly like earlier coins created by Longacre. It had an agricultural wreath, with the denomination of “3 DOLLARS” and the year situated between the arms of the wreath.



Specs for $3 Indian Princess Coins

Any time you are thinking of buying or selling gold coins of any kind, you need to be sure the coin you have or are considering matches the true specifications for that type of coin. Otherwise, it could be a counterfeit. The same is true of the $3 Indian Princess gold coin.

Measure, weigh and examine the coin closely to be sure you know what it is.

Years: 1854-1889
Denomination: $3
Diameter: 20.5 mm
Weight: 5.015 grams
Gold content: 0.1451 troy ounces
Edge: Reeded
Purity: 90% fine gold (10% copper)
Mints: Philadelphia, New Orleans, Dahlonega, San Francisco
Total Mintage: 539,792

Key Dates and Varieties

The $3 Indian Princess gold coin is known for its overall low mintage. There were also some varieties that are now very well known. Here are some of the more valuable coins to watch for as you build your collection or help someone else build theirs.

Large vs. Small “DOLLARS” Lettering

The most eye-catching difference among all the $3 Indian princess gold coin specimens is the two sizes of the lettering on the word “DOLLARS.” Small lettering was used for 1854, the coin’s first year of production. However, the coins after that, from 1855 to 1889, had larger lettering.

Rare Date Coins

As with nearly any type of coin, there are dates of the $3 Indian Princess gold coin that are rarer than others. These coins tend to be more valuable if their condition warrants it.

Here are some of the rarest in this series of coins:

  • 1870-S – This coin is one of the two rarest. Only one was struck for the San Francisco Mint’s cornerstone, at least officially. Later, an 1870-S coin showed up, but it is not known where that coin came from and whether there was a second coin made unofficially or the coin was stolen or picked up from the cornerstone.


  • 1873 Closed 3 – The Closed 3 and the Open 3 gold coins in this series show a subtle difference. The Closed 3 merely has less space between the left arms of the number than the open 3. Only 100 of these coins were minted in Philadelphia.


  • Proof coins before 1859 – Typical production was about 20 coins, though there were more minted in years from 1859 onwards.


  • San Francisco mintmark – The San Francisco mintmark is rare because the $3 gold coins were only minted in San Francisco in 1855, 1856, 1857, and 1860.




Lower Mintage Years

1854 D Auction Coin
1854-D $3 gold coin
  • 1881: 500
  • 1885: 800
  • 1883: 900
  • 1880: 1,000
  • 1854-D: 1,120 (only $3 gold coin that was struck at the Dahlonega mint)
  • 1865: 1,140
  • 1871: 1,300
  • 1877: 1,468
  • 1858: 2,133


Things to Remember When Buying or Selling These Coins

Before you buy or sell a rare coin, be sure it is exactly what it should be. Examine it closely and compare it to images you see at reputable coin dealer sites or coin books. You may come across fake coins, especially when you are trying to buy a rare coin like this one.

Surprisingly, despite the rarity of $3 Indian Princess gold coins, the demand is relatively low. Therefore, they may not be as valuable as you would expect based on their rarity.

If you happen to have a questionable coin or one of the rare coins highlighted above, you may want to have to sent to a third party grading service, such as NGC or PCGS.

A PCGS or NGC verified, and graded coin will not only be assured of authenticity but also know the exact condition.

How to Find an Expert in Rare U.S. Coins

Understanding every fact and detail about rare coins like the $3 Indian Princess gold coin is a task best left to experts. The team at Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers can guide you through a sale or purchase so that you get the outcome you are looking to achieve.

We also have many excellent gold coins in our inventory, available for purchase now. Plus, if you have any questions, we can point you to the answers you seek. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you!

Atlanta Gold and Coin Buyers

Tony Davis
Tony Davis
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation, and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at or at 404-236-9744
Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, Rare Coin Guide

Get Our Rare Coin Guide

Download our Rare Coin Guide! View key dates and rare mint marks for US minted coins.

Please contact us for an appointment.

Share to...