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US Coin - 1856 - Indian Princess Head Three Dollar - San Francisco

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Designer: James Barton Longacre


Chief Engraver James Barton Longacre created an “Indian Princess” for his obverse of this design. However, the model was not a Native American profile, but actually a profile modeled after the Greco-Roman Venus Accroupie statue then in a Philadelphia museum. Longacre used this distinctive sharp-nosed profile on his gold dollar of 1849 and would employ it again on the Indian Head cent of 1859. On the three-dollar coin Liberty is wearing a feathered headdress of equal-sized plumes with a band bearing LIBERTY in raised letters. She’s surrounded by the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Such a headdress dates back to the earliest known drawings of American Indians by French artist Jacques le Moyne du Morgue’s sketches of the Florida Timucua tribe who lived near the tragic French colony of Fort Caroline in 1562. It was accepted by engravers and medalists of the day as the design shorthand for “America.”

This design and it's variations appear on the dollar and three-dollar coins. A similar (but disctinctly different) pattern appears on the "Indian Cent".

Item created by: Lethe on 2015-05-31 17:46:30. Last edited by gdm on 2020-01-04 14:48:16

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