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Superb Gem 1878 Three-Dollar Gold: Stack’s Bowers Direct Coin of the Week

Superb Gem 1878 Three-Dollar Gold: Stack's Bowers Direct Coin of the Week

1878 Three-Dollar Gold Piece Description

  • Astonishing Superb Gem 1878 Three-Dollar Gold
  • From the D. Brent Pogue Collection

1878 Three-Dollar Gold Piece. MS-67 (PCGS). CAC.


A magnificent Superb Gem 1878 Three-Dollar Gold with lovely golden-orange, powder blue and pinkish-rose patina. Sharply struck and frosty in finish, tt ranks among the finest not only of the issue but of the entire denomination. None have been graded higher by PCGS for the date and only four are listed finer for the series. Just one other coin is listed in this grade by CAC, which assigns a value of $81,100 to stickered examples. One of the most desirable treasures from the D. Brent Pogue Collection and surely destined for a world-class Registry Set.

During and after the Civil War, coins, especially those made in gold and silver, continued to be hoarded. The passage of the Specie Resumption Act of January 14, 1875 mandated that the Treasury Department redeem federally-issued currency for specie (gold or silver) beginning on January 1, 1879.

Leading up to the resumption of these payments, the United States Mint struck large quantities of gold coins of all denominations in anticipation of increased demand for commerce. Once paper money achieved parity with gold in December 1878, the expected greater demand for coins did not materialize, especially for the three-dollar gold piece.

Introduced in 1854 to coincide with the change in the first-class postal rate to 3¢, the three-dollar gold piece was intended to make the purchase of a full sheet of 100 stamps easier. However, the new gold coin never took off for everyday use and for most of its existence, mintage figures were modest with only 10 of the 43 total issues exceeding 10,000 pieces, almost all in the 1850s.

In 1878, the Philadelphia Mint struck 82,304 three-dollar gold pieces, second only to the initial 1854 in terms of number coined. As the denomination was seldom seen in circulation in the East, many of the coins sat in Treasury coffers until they were eventually melted. Minimal quantities were struck each year at Philadelphia for another 11 years before the denomination was abolished in 1889. In the meantime, some banks paid out their reserves of the denomination at a slight premium to numismatists as well as jewelers who used the coins in necklaces and bracelets.

PCGS# 8000. NGC ID: 25MZ.

PCGS Population: 5; 3 finer (all MS-67+). CAC Population: 2; none finer.

Ex Heritage’s Long Beach Signature Auction of February 2009, lot 2641; our sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part VII, March 2020, lot 7330.

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