The 3-Cent Silver piece is the smallest of the United States silver coins, called the ‘trime’ by the Treasury Department. There are 3 different varieties of the 3-cent silver piece, the first one had no lines bordering the six-pointed star on the front of the coin, the second variety had 2 lines, and the third variety had only 1 line. Issues from 1854 through 1873 have an olive sprig over the 3 and a bundle of three arrows beneath the 3. These coins can be hard to come across, considering that nearly the entire production of non-proof coins from 1863 to 1872 were melted in 1873.
Variety 1 of the 3-cent silvers were minted from 1851 to 1853. Out of the three years they were minted they have 5 coins, the 1851-O from New Orleans is the only 3-cent silver piece to have a mint mark, and the 1852 1/inv2 which is an 1851 coin with a 2 on it upside down.
Variety 2 of the 3-cent silvers were minted from 1854 to 1858. Out of the five years these were minted, they only have the 5 coins, no mint marks or over dates. The better one to have in this group is the 1855 with only 139,000 minted.
Variety 3 of the 3-cent silvers were minted from 1859 to 1873. This variety has the most of the coins with 17 total coins, one of which is an over date, and another is a so-called over date, and the 1873 is a proof only issue. Most coins in this group are rare and can get pricey even in the lower grades.
Stay tuned next month for the Nickel Three Cent Pieces!