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Denver Coins --> United States Coins --> Obsolete United State coins -->  Three-dollar piece (United States)

Denver Gold and Silver Exchange

5475 Leetsdale Dr Suite 210
Denver, Colorado 80246

Monday - Saturday 10 am to 5 pm Three-dollar piece
Sundays by Appointment Only
Call anytime - leave a message: Main Number: 303-333-1411

The three-dollar piece was a United States coin produced from 1854 to 1889. Its value was intended to tie in with the postal system. At the time, a first class postage stamp was worth 3, and such stamps were often sold in sheets of one hundred stamps. Therefore, the three-dollar piece was exactly enough money to purchase a sheet of stamps. The Treasury Department also withdrew its fractional currency issues starting in the late 1870s, of which there was a 3 denomination. A $3 gold coin would have helped facilitate this for those desiring gold in exchange for their 3 coins. Despite these potential uses, the coin was minted in small quantities (~535,000 for the entire series, the smallest amount for any series ofThree-dollar piece circulating United States coins), and was never widely used in commerce. Its 1854 purchasing power would be the equivalent of $72.68 today.

Authorized by the Act of February 21, 1853, the coin was designed by James B. Longacre. The obverse depicts a representation of LIBERTY wearing a headdress of an Indian princess and the reverse a wreath of corn, cotton, and tobacco. The three-dollar piece was .900 gold and .100 copper for a total weight of 5.015 grams. It had a diameter of 20.5 mm with a reeded edge. Quantities were minted in Philadelphia each year of production, as well as in Dahlonega, New Orleans, and San Francisco in certain years. Proofs were officially recorded as being minted at Philadelphia from 1859 to 1889, and only proofs were minted in 1875 and 1876. Proofs of dates prior to 1859 are also known, including extremely rare branch-mint proofs. The total quantity of coins minted each year ranges from 2 for the 1870-S (of which only one has been confirmed to collectors) to 138,618 for the 1854. Today, any specimen has a value of at least several hundred dollars, and the most valuable is the unique 1870-S, currently (2007) valued at $4,000,000 in AU-50.


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