The Type 3 gold dollar design corrected the strike problems that had plagued the previous design. Aside for some poorly made coins that the Charlotte and Dahlonega mints issued, these coins are almost always sharply struck.
James Longacre adapted his design for the $3 gold piece for this coin. Although it is quite attractive, it is yet another example of the odd American practice of depicting a Causation woman wearing a Native American headdress.
The Civil War broke out only a few years after the mint introduced the Type 3 gold dollar. During the war all gold coins were extensively hoarded because they were worth more in paper currency than their face value.
Following the war, the U.S. monetary system continued to be in chaos. For a while dollars in gold, silver and paper all had different values or buying power in the economy, and gold was usually considered to be the most reliable. From the end of the Civil War until 1889 when Congress ended the issuance of the gold dollar, few of the coins were seen in circulation. As a result mintages were low, and most of the surviving coins are in Mint State or very close to that level of preservation.
The 1881 gold dollar shown above is a superb MS-67 example with proof-like surfaces. Although Mint State 1881 gold dollars are not rare, this piece is outstanding.