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1851 to 1873 Silver Three-Cent Pieces

The United States three cent piece was a unit of currency equaling 3/100th of a United States dollar. The mint produced two different three cent coins, the 3 Cent Silver and 3 Cent Nickel.

The three cent coin has an unusual history. It was proposed in 1851 both as a result of the decrease in postage rates from five cents to three and to answer the need for a small denomination, easy to handle coin.

The three cent silver featured a shield on a six sided star on the obverse and the Roman numeral 'III' on the reverse. The coin was made of 75% silver and 25% copper. The coins were physically the smallest coins ever minted by the United States.

The silver coins were known as "fishscales". The term "trimes" is often used today. The three cent silver coin was minted from 1851 to 1873 at the Philadelphia mint. The New Orleans mint also struck some of the silver three cent coins in 1951 only.

1853 Silver 3 Cent piece

1853 Silver Three Cent Piece

The best place to purchase 3 Cent Silver is at eBay. Most of these coins are very expensive in the better grades and rare years. However, if you just want one or two for your collection look for 3 cent pieces dated from about 1851 to 1862 in the lower grades of about good, good or very good. You should be able to find a specimen for your collection in the $10.00 to $25.00 range.

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