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HomeUS CoinsThree-Cent Silver, Type 3 (1859-1873) | CoinWeek

Three-Cent Silver, Type 3 (1859-1873) | CoinWeek

1869 Three-Cent Silver. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1869 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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The Type 2 design modification of the Three-Cent Silver coin failed to improve striking quality, so additional, apparently successful, modifications were done to alleviate the problem, giving us the third type of the series. However, a surplus of small denomination coins that had been growing since the mid-1850s, combined with the start of the Civil War, resulted in decreased use, circulation, and production. Most Type 3 Three-Cent Silver coins were produced from 1859 through 1862, with mintages dropping significantly from 1863 through 1872. The last year of the series, 1873, was a Proof-only issue.

How Much Are Type 3 Three-Cent Silver Coins Worth?

Type 3 Three-Cent Silver coins are relatively affordable in lower circulated and mid-Mint State grades. Reflecting mintage numbers, coins dated 1863 and later are more expensive than coins dated 1859 through 1862 (at four to 10 times the price), and collectively they are considered key coins of the series. Type 3 Proofs are generally more available and affordable than either Type 1 or Type 2 Proofs (and even Type 2 circulation strikes), with mintages ranging from a low of 460 in 1863 to a high of 1,000 in each of the years 1860, 1861, and 1870. Cameo and Deep Cameo Proofs are listed in population/census reports and command slightly higher (Cameo) premiums to substantially higher (Deep Cameo, MS66 and above). Repunched varieties are known and collected for circulation and Proof coins, and generally sell for significantly higher prices than standard issues.

Date-by-Date Analysis by CoinWeek Notes

Extended Coverage of the Type 3 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 3 coins displays the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the field’s periphery, with the date centered at the bottom. Compared to Type 1 and Type 2 coins, these letters are narrower and more widely spaced (considered by some to be an indication of United States Mint Assistant Engraver Anthony C. Paquet’s influence), and the date numerals are smaller. In the center is a national shield superimposed on a six-pointed star with two outlines. 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 three that identifies 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 3 trimes were produced at the Philadelphia Mint, so none displays a mintmark.


The edge of the Type 3 Three-Cent Silver is plain or smooth, without reeding or lettering.

Coin Specifications

Three-Cent Silver, Type 3
Years Of Issue: 1851-53
Mintage (Business Strikes): High: 497,000 (1861); Low: 1,000 (1872)
Mintage (Proofs): High: 1,000 (tie: 1860, 1861, and 1870); Low: 460 (1863)
Alloy: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: ±0.75 g
Diameter: ±14.00 mm
Edge: Plain
OBV Designer: James Barton Longacre (assisted by Anthony C. Paquet)
REV Designer: James Barton Longacre (assisted by Anthony C. Paquet)


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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 Kenneth Bressett (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

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