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Like the other denominations struck in proof format in 1859 and 1860, a significant percentage of the original production run appears to have been melted. In the case of the three dollar gold piece, the mintage was paltry at the outset with only 119 proofs struck. How many pieces were melted at year's end is a matter of conjecture, but we would estimate at least half the mintage. Today it is believed that only 10 to 12 proofs are known in all grades. The rule-of-thumb for most 19th century proof gold is approximately half the number produced (or in this case not melted) are still extant today. Using that reasoning, as many as 90-100 coins may have been melted.
One curious feature noted by Harry Bass about the 1860 proof three dollar is that they were struck from the same die pair as the circulation strikes. The dies were resurfaced and given a mirror finish after striking 7,036 business strikes. Evidence of this resurfacing can be seen by the reduction in the bottom of the designer's initials J.B.L. at the bottom of the truncation of Liberty's neck.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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