1857-S threes are usually only encountered in VF-XF grades. In 1857, gold dust was still plentiful in the San Francisco area following the Gold Rush that began in 1848. After the newly built branch mint resolved its problems with a lack of parting acids in 1855, there was still a significant need for lower denomination gold coins on the West Coast. In 1857, there were 14,250 three dollar gold pieces struck in the western facility. While that seems like a paltry number, it is actually a significant mintage for this little-used odd denomination. What is significant, of course, is the extraordinary degree of preservation for this '57-S. Uncirculated examples of this issue have been recognized and highly sought after since one was offered in an Elmer Sears fixed price list a century ago, followed by one in an Elder sale from 1914 where the coin was described as 'excessively rare.'
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.