Three Cents 1851, Coin from United States - detailed information

Three Cents 1851, Coin from United States (withdrawn 1873)
CoinThree Cents 1851

The United States three-cent coin (also called a trime) was a short-lived denomination of a United States dollar.

It was a tiny silver coin at first; designed by James B. Longacre, the silver version was produced for circulation from 1851 to 1872 and for as proof only in 1873.

After a massive importation of gold bullion during the California Gold Rush, silver could be traded for increasing amounts of gold, so U.S. silver coins were exported and melted for their metal. This, and the reduction of postage rates to three cents, prompted Congress in 1851 to authorise a coin of that denomination made of .750 fine silver, rather than the conventional .900 (the rest of the content was copper). The three-cent silver was the first American coin to contain metal valued significantly less than its face value, and the first silver coin not to be legal tender for an unlimited amount. The coin saw heavy use until Congress acted again in 1853, making other silver coins lighter, which kept them in circulation. Congress also lightened the three-cent silver, and increased its fineness to .900 silver.

With the return of other denominations to circulation, the three-cent silver saw less use, and its place in commerce was lost with the economic chaos of the American Civil War, which led to hoarding of all gold and silver coins. It had circulated well while other silver coinage was being hoarded and melted, but once that problem was addressed, became less used and was abolished by the Coinage Act of 1873.

A bronze replacement was briefly considered in 1863, but the silver version was finally replaced with a copper-nickel coin first issued in 1865 (for several years, the two versions were issued in parallel).

The denomination was only struck by the Philadelphia Mint, with no mint mark, with the exception of the first year of issue (1851) when some of them were minted at the New Orleans Mint with mint mark O.

The series is not widely collected, and the pieces remain inexpensive relative to other U.S. coins of similar scarcity.

MintMint markTotal Mintage
Philadelphia Mint No mint mark 5,447,400 (5.4 million)
New Orleans Mint Letter O 720,000
Obverse
United States / Three Cents 1851 - obverse photo

At the centre of the obverse, a six-pointed star within which the Union Shield of the United States, with seven horizontal stripes above and six vertical stripes below, representing the 13 original states forming the United States.

Around, within a plain rim, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; below, the date of issue: 1851.

This design is called Variety 1 or Type 1 and differs from the later designs by having a single line outlining the six-pointed star.

Obverse Inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1851
Reverse
United States / Three Cents 1851 - reverse photo

At the centre of the obverse, a large decorative letter C - abbreviated from "cent", within which the Roman numeral III for the value of 3 cents.

Around, within a plain rim, thirteen stars represent the 13 original states forming the United States.

Coins struck at the New Orleans Mint have the letter O as a mint mark, to the right of the open part of the large C. Coins issued by the Philadelphia Mint have no mint mark.

Reverse Inscription C III *************
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone
All (48) Coins of Country: United States, Type: Three Cents
Coin NameMintageSymbolLegend
Three Cents 1851 6,167,400 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1851
Three Cents 1852 18,663,500 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1852
Three Cents 1853 11,400,000 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1853
Three Cents 1854 671,000 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1854
Three Cents 1855 139,000 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1855
Three Cents 1856 1,458,000 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1856
Three Cents 1857 1,042,000 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1857
Three Cents 1858 1,604,000 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1858
Three Cents 1859 365,000 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1859
Three Cents 1860 287,000 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1860
Three Cents 1861 498,000 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1861
Three Cents 1862 343,550 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1862
Three Cents 1863 21,460 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1863
Three Cents 1864 12,470 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1864
Three Cents 1865, Silver 8,500 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1865
Three Cents 1865, Nickel 11,382,500 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1865
Three Cents 1866, Silver 22,725 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1866
Three Cents 1866, Nickel 4,801,725 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1866
Three Cents 1867, Silver 4,625 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1867
Three Cents 1867, Nickel 3,915,625 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1867
Three Cents 1868, Silver 4,100 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1868
Three Cents 1868, Nickel 3,252,600 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1868
Three Cents 1869, Silver 5,100 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1869
Three Cents 1869, Nickel 1,604,600 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1869
Three Cents 1870, Silver 4,000 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1870
Three Cents 1870, Nickel 1,336,000 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1870
Three Cents 1871, Silver 4,360 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1871
Three Cents 1871, Nickel 604,960 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1871
Three Cents 1872, Silver 1,950 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1872
Three Cents 1872, Nickel 862,950 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1872
Three Cents 1873, Silver (Proof only) 600 Shield of the Coat of Arms UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1873
Three Cents 1873, Nickel 1,174,100 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1873
Three Cents 1874 790,700 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1874
Three Cents 1875 228,700 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1875
Three Cents 1876 163,150 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1876
Three Cents 1877 (Proof only) 510 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1877
Three Cents 1878 (Proof only) 2,350 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1878
Three Cents 1879 41,200 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1879
Three Cents 1880 24,955 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1880
Three Cents 1881 1,080,575 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1881
Three Cents 1882 25,300 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1882
Three Cents 1883 10,609 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1883
Three Cents 1884 5,642 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1884
Three Cents 1885 4,790 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1885
Three Cents 1886 (Proof only) 4,290 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1886
Three Cents 1887 7,961 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1887
Three Cents 1888 41,083 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1888
Three Cents 1889 21,561 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1889
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Three Cents 1851: Details
CountryUnited States
CurrencyUS Dollar
Coin TypeThree Cents, Silver
Issued1851
SymbolShield of the Coat of Arms of the United States
Face Value3 (x Cent)
Circulation Mintage6,167,400 (6.2 million)
Total Mintage6,167,400 (6.2 million)
CurrentNo; withdrawn 1873
Material0.750 Silver
DesignerJames Barton Longacre
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
Size14.000 mm
Mass0.800 g
OCC IDRWKZ-EJNC-JQWG-EXGL
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Three Cents 1851: Photos
ImageDetails
3 Cents 1851-O
Copyright: PCGS
Notes: O mint mark.
Source
3 Cents 1851-O
Copyright: PCGS
Source
Coin, United States, 3 Cents 1851
Copyright: NumisCorner.com
Notes: No mint mark.
Source
Coin, United States, 3 Cents 1851
Copyright: NumisCorner.com
Source
Three Cents 1851: Catalogue Reference IDs
SourceReference ID
Krause, Standard Catalog of World CoinsUnited States KM# 75