Three Cent Silver pieces, 1851-1873
Silver Three-Cent Pieces were issued from 1851 to 1873. Designed by James B. Longacre, all Three-Cent Pieces were struck at the Philadelphia Mint, with the sole exception of one year’s production of Silver Three-Cent Pieces at the New Orleans Mint in 1851.
- 1851-1853, No Outline to Star Type
- 1854-1858, Three Outlines to Star Type
- 1859-1873, Two Outlines to Star Type
The “trime” as it has come to be called, was originally intended to redeem worn Spanish and Mexican fractional silver coins circulating within the economy at the time. To offset the monetary advantage associated with this redemption, the trime was the only U.S. coin originally authorized to be struck in a debased alloy of 75% silver and 25% copper. This grand plan went for naught, as the trime was finally authorized for use in the purchase of 3c postage stamps. Up to 1865, the Civil War caused hoarding of all circulating Silver coinage including these Three-Cent pieces. Coupled with the pressure exerted by nickel interests, the government was prompted to introduce a copper-nickel Three-Cent Piece. The trime was gradually phased out and discontinued in 1873. The new copper-nickel Three-Cent Piece lingered a while longer, before being discontinued in 1889.
Interestingly, the trime was only struck in one year at a branch mint, that being in 1851 at New Orleans. This is a very scarce, highly collectable issue.