The smallest coin in U.S. history owes its existence to two of the biggest gold rushes. That coin is the gold dollar, a mere pipsqueak physically, but a giant in terms of history, rarity and value.
The groundwork was laid for this fascinating coin in the Carolinas and Georgia, where the nation’s first big gold rush took place in the early 1800s. That rush had a major impact on United States coinage, leading to the establishment of two branch mints in the region—in Charlotte, North Carolina, and in Dahlonega, Georgia—and a sharp boost in the number of gold coins being made by the federal government.
The first gold dollars made in the United States were privately minted issues produced about 1830 by a German immigrant named Alt Christoph Bechtler who operated a jewelry shop in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Finding that gold dust and nuggets were the primary medium of exchange in the area, Be.... (Expand Text)