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Silver Three Cent, Two Outlines to Star (1859-1873)

Silver Three Cent, Two Outlines to Star (1859-1873)

Coin number: MC123

Description: Two Outlines to Star (1859-1873), Designer - Engraver: James B Longacre, Metal Composition: 90% Silver - 10% Copper, Diameter: 14 mm, Mass: 0.75 grams

This coin or, rather, these three coins have an interesting history. The newly found gold in California after 1848 made silver a “common” metal. Gold had 15 to 16 times the value of silver, so silver coins from the half dime to the dollar began to disappear. The Mint decided to produce a small coin for commerce and in 1851 it introduced the three-cent silver piece, the trime. The initial design underwent two modifications, resulting in three different types of trime. The first type was produced between 1851 and 1853. Its distinguishing marks are the absence of an outline of a frame around the obverse star. These coins were made of only 75% silver (as opposed to the usual 90%). Hence, they were intrinsically worth less than their face value, which made them unattractive to hoard or melt. These coins were popular and circulated widely. In 1854 the trime was altered considerably, resulting in Type II, which continued through 1858. The alloy used was 90% silver and 10% copper. A raised border appeared around the obverse star together with two line frames. On the reverse , an olive branch and a bundle of arrows are added. But this motif was difficult to strike up convincingly. In 1859 the design was modified yet again, resulting in Type III. The demand was small and after 1862 few coins were made for circulation was the public preferred to hoard during war time. Points to look for include the tiny shield on the obverse in Type I, the details and strength on the reverse of Type III and the rims on both sides. Circulated Type II coins are scarce in all grades. MS coins are also scarce, especially grades MS-64 and higher.

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