Three Cent Silver Pieces
The United States three cent piece was a unit of currency equaling 3⁄100 of a United States dollar. The mint produced two different three-cent coins: the three-cent silver and the three-cent nickel. During the period from 1865 to 1873, both coins were minted, albeit in very small quantities for the silver three cent piece. The three cent coin has an unusual history. It was proposed in 1851 both as a result of the decrease in postage rates from five cents to three and to answer the need for a small-denomination, easy-to-handle coin. The three cent silver featured a shield on a six sided star on the obverse and the Roman numeral III on the reverse. The silver coins were known as "fishscales". The term "trimes" is often used today for these coins but that was first used by the director of the United States Mint (James Ross Snowden) at the time of their production. It was minted from 1851 to 1873 at the Philadelphia Mint. In the later years there were very small mintages and the 1873 issue was in proof state only, commanding prices upwards of four hundred dollars. However, an earlier date silver three cent piece can be bought in worn condition for a relatively low price. The silver three cent pieces can be purchased for around twenty five dollars if they are in decent shape and before 1862, depending on the mintage. The silver three cent piece (along with the silver dollar, the half dime, and the two cent piece) was discontinued by the Coinage Act of 1873.