$ 3 Three Dollar Gold Coin (1854-1889) Just Discovered Rare
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The three-dollar piece was a gold coin produced by the United States Bureau of the Mint from 1854 to 1889. Authorized by the Act of February 21, 1853, the coin was designed by Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre.(1) The obverse bears a representation of Lady Liberty wearing a headdress of a Native American princess and the reverse a wreath of corn, wheat, cotton, and tobacco.
In 1851, Congress had authorized a silver three-cent piece so that postage stamps of that value could be purchased without using the widely disliked copper cents. Two years later, a bill was passed which authorized a three-dollar coin. By some accounts, the coin was created so larger quantities of stamps could be purchased. Longacre, in designing the piece, sought to make it as different as possible from the quarter eagle or $2.50 piece, striking it on a thinner planchet and using a distinctive design.
Although over 100,000 were struck in the first year, the coin saw little use. It circulated somewhat on the West Coast, where gold and silver were used to the exclusion of paper money, but what little place it had in commerce in the East was lost in the economic disruption of the Civil War, and was never regained. The piece was last struck in 1889, and Congress ended the series the following year. Although many dates were struck in small numbers, the rarest was produced at the San Francisco Mint in 1870 (1870-S); only one is known with certainty to exist.
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