The 1854-D $3 gold coin ranks among the most significant gold rarities of the United States. It is not as great a rarity as the 1870-S $3 or the 1822 $5, but it?s a key date with a reputation of being among the best dates of a very tough set.
There are good reasons why back in 1854 Dahlonega decided to produce a grand total of just 1,120 $3 gold pieces. First, Dahlonega rarely, if ever, made a lot of coins. It was a branch mint that was no first-class operation. Rather, it was closer to the frontier mint it had been when it opened for business in the 1830s. Even so, the 1854-D?s 1,120 mintage was a little low even by Dahlonega standards.
It must be remembered that at the time a $3 gold piece was a new and untested idea. It does not mean that by definition there were going to be low totals, but it can mean that a place like Dahlonega was going to go slowly when it came to mintages since they were not sure anyone would like or want to use the coin.
Consideration of the potential acceptance of a new denomination like the $3 was not an insignificant item. After all, the denomination was something of a trumped-up one, as there was no good reason for a $3 gold coin. The United States already had a $2.50, and they were not in short supply.
Stamps cost $3 per sheet at the time. Even though many people were not buying stamps, this was the justification for creating the $3 gold coin.
The Charlotte facility didn?t produce a single $3 gold. New Orleans only made a total of 24,000 and, after trying 1,120, Dahlonega never made another. It appears that the denomination was not popular around Dahlonega since there were plenty of opportunities to make more, but it never happened.
What few if any collectors there were in Dahlonega were not exactly overcome with enthusiasm for the 1854-D either. Also, it was a lot of money for many people at the time. For any denomination of ?D? issues, there are just a few known examples in Mint State.
The result is that we have almost no supply. As was typical of Dahlonega issues, the 1854-D was not perfectly made. It routinely has lightness at the dentils and smoothness at the reeding at the top.
Even with the marginal quality, the 1854-D is a prize for a serious gold coin collector at $8,300 in VF-20, while an MS-60 lists for $65,000.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has graded 95 examples and just eight were called Mint State. Of the 122 graded by Professional Coin Grading Service, just three are called Mint State.
Some coins have likely been submitted more than once since it is believed that there are no more than about 150 examples total today. Whatever the true total, the fact is the 1854-D is an awfully good coin in any grade.