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HomeUS CoinsThree-Cent Silver, Type 2 (1854-1858) | CoinWeek

Three-Cent Silver, Type 2 (1854-1858) | CoinWeek

Type 2 1857 Three-Cent Silver. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1857 Three-Cent Silver. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..

Type 1 | Type 2 | Type 3

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Though the initial production of Three-Cent Silver coins helped meet the need for small-denomination circulating coins, the greater problem of rising silver prices (relative to gold prices) was still an issue by the time the United States Mint created the Type 2 Three-Cent Silver.

This issue was resolved by legislation in 1853 that raised the silver content of the three-cent coin from 75% to 90% (the law also reduced the weight of all silver coins except the dollar). The coin’s design was modified to signify this change and to correct striking problems with the original design.

Unfortunately, the striking problems worsened, so well struck Type 2 Three-Cent Silvers are hard to find.

Overall production for the five years of Type 2 production was only about 10 percent of the Type 1 total. All silver coins circulated more abundantly following the 1853 weight reduction, which probably contributed to reduced demand for the trime.

How Much Are Type 2 Three-Cent Silver Coins Worth?

Type 2 Three-Cent Silver pieces are relatively affordable in lower circulated and Mint State grades, but prices and scarcity increase substantially for coins in higher Mint States. Reflecting mintage numbers, coins dated 1855 are the most expensive (approximately twice the price as the others) and the date is considered a key of the series. Type 2 Proofs are scarce but generally more available and affordable, with fewer than 100 produced for 1854 through 1857 (1854 being the lowest at 20 coins) and 200-300 for 1858. Cameo Proofs are listed in population/census reports and command slightly higher premiums.

Date-by-Date Analysis by CoinWeek Notes

1856 Three-Cent Silver. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
1856 Three-Cent Silver. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

Extended Coverage of the Type 2 Three-Cent Silver on CoinWeek

Classic U.S. coins for less than $500 - Three-Cent Silvers

As part of his “Classic U.S. Coins for Less Than $500” series, expert Greg Reynolds writes about the Three-Cent Silver series, with tips for collectors regarding all three types.



The obverse of Type 2 coins displays the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the periphery of the field, with the date centered at the bottom. In the center is a national shield superimposed on a six-pointed star, which has three outlines (sometimes called a double outline because of the perception of the spacing of the outlines relative to the main body of the star; one outline followed the rim of the star, two were separated from it). Slight ridges radiate from the shield to each point of the star, giving the star a beveled appearance.


The reverse has 13 equally spaced six-pointed stars around the periphery of the field. The center displays a stylized, beaded letter “C”, almost Arabic in style, which encloses the Roman numeral III, thus identifying the denomination as three cents. An olive branch or sprig is located above the Roman numerals, with a bound cluster of three arrows below. All Type 2 trimes were produced in Philadelphia, so none displays a mintmark.


The edge of the Type 2 Three-Cent Silver coin is plain or smooth, without reeding or edge lettering.

Coin Specifications

Three-Cent Silver, Type 2
Years of Issue: 1854-58
Mintage (Business Strikes): High: 1,603,700 (1858); Low: 139,000 (1855)
Mintage (Proofs): High: 210 (1858); Low: 20 (1854)
Alloy: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: ±0.75 g
Diameter: ±14.00 mm
Edge: Plain
OBV Designer: James Barton Longacre
REV Designer: James Barton Longacre


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Bowers, Q. David. The Experts Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins. Whitman Publishing.

–. A Guide Book of United States Type Coins. Whitman Publishing.

Breen, Walter. Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins. Doubleday.

Guth, Ron and Jeff Garrett. United States Coinage: A Study by Type. Whitman Publishing.

Taxay, Don. The U.S. Mint and Coinage. Arco Publishing.

Yeoman, R.S. and Jeff Garrett (editor). The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins. Whitman Publishing.

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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