Designed by: James Barton Longacre
Issued Date: 1859-1873
Composition: 0.900 part silver, 0.100 part copper
Diameter: 14 mm
Weight: 11.57 grains (0.75 gram)
Total Business Strike mintage: 1,572,600
Total Proof Strike mintage: 10,840
The silver three-cent piece was again modified in 1859. The three outlines to the obverse star were discontinued in favor of two outlines. At last the problem of a weak strike was solved and from this point forward specimens were much more sharply struck than their predecessors. Still, occasional weak strikes persisted. Examples were produced in large quantities for circulation from 1859 through 1862, after which time the hoarding of silver pieces during the Civil War mad additional coinage redundant. After the war ended, in 1865, quantities produced remained small, for the coin was never popular with the public. Although several thousand business strikes are listed for each of various years from 1865 onward, today specimens encountered of these particular years are apt to be Proofs. Uncirculated examples of coins dated from 1866 through 1872 are extreme rarities. Most Uncirculated pieces seen by the writer have been Proofs. The last year, 1873, saw mintage only of Proofs, to the extent of an estimated 600 pieces.
The collector desiring an example for a type set will have no difficulty acquiring a specimen dated in the 1859 to 1862 range in grades from Fine through Extremely Fine or AU. Uncirculated pieces occur with some frequency, although truly superb examples are elusive. When they do occur they are apt to be dated 1861 or 1862. Among higher grade pieces, most often seen are Proofs.