VarietyPlus » Three Cent Silvers (1851-1873)

Three Cent Silvers (1851-1873)

The retrieval of vast amounts of gold from California after 1848 depressed the value of this metal, driving up the relative price of silver and forcing United States silver coins from circulation. A stopgap solution to this hardship was found in the silver three-cent piece, or trime. Only .750 fine, its bullion value was low enough to prevent hoarding, and millions were coined during the next few years. When the weights of the conventional silver denominations were reduced in 1853, this largely eliminated the need for such an odd denomination, though trimes continued to circulate extensively through 1861. The Civil War prompted the issuance of non-redeemable paper money, and all gold and silver coins were hoarded. Mintages of the silver three-cent piece thus fell to a trickle. Its passing in 1873 went without notice by the public.

The fineness of this coin was raised to .900 and its weight lowered in 1854. Minor changes were made to the design that year and again in 1859.

Trimes typically are sought by type alone, as the extremely low mintages of 1863-72, combined with the proof-only issue of 1873, weigh heavily against the popularity of this series with date collectors. Few varieties are known for this series, but desirable varieties may be found in the 1862/1 overdate and several repunched dates, the most amazing of which is 1852 with its 1 over an inverted 2.

NGC attributes the varieties for this series described in VarietyPlus. These include most varieties listed by Fivaz/Stanton and selected ones listed by Flynn/Zack.

Denom.MS/PFDateFee*NGC LabelVarietyPlusFivaz-Stanton (OLD)Flynn-Zack
3CSMS1851 18/18 $15FS-301VP-002FS-001RPD-004
3CSMS1851/851 $15FS-302VP-001FS-001.5RPD-001
3CSMS1852 1/INVERT 2$15FS-301VP-002FS-002RPD-005
3CSMS1852/52 $15FS-302 FS-002.3RPD-002
3CSMS1852 DDR$15FS-801VP-001FS-002.5DDR-001
3CSMS1853 18/18 $15FS-301VP-001FS-003RPD-004
3CSMS1853/1--3 $15VP-002  RPD-005
3CSMS1854 85/85 $15FS-301 FS-004RPD-001
3CSMS1855/855 $15VP-001  RPD-002
3CSMS1862/1 $15FS-301 FS-007 

* In order to have the above varieties requiring the $15 fee designated by NGC, VarietyPlus service must be requested at time of grading. VarietyPlus service is also available for coins already encapsulated by NGC. For coins where the fee column is blank, no VarietyPlus charge is required to have your coin designated during grading. For coins marked $15, a $15 surcharge applies to the tier fee during grading, or a $15 fee applies to have the VarietyPlus designation added to any coin already graded and encapsulated by NGC.
Fivaz, Bill & J.T. Stanton. The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties, 5th Edition, Volume 1. Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2009
Flynn, Kevin & Winston Zack. The Authoritative Reference on Three Cent Silver Coins. Kyle Vick, Roswell, GA, 2010