Hey everyone! I received my order of new coin cases from CoinWorld.com today, including specialty cases for two of my most unique coin finds which I’ve decided to share with you! Ever needed to buy a postage stamp, and wished you had a single coin for the purchase? No? Me either, but that was the unique origin of the three-cent coin.
(Photo credit PCGS CoinFacts)
The first US three-cent coin was produced in 1851 as a result of the change of the postage rate to three cents, and the need for more small-denominational coins. The three-cent silver (sometimes called a “trime”) was the lightest of all US coins, and smallest diameter non-gold US coin. Original composition of the coin was 75% silver to discourage melting for bullion (a fairly common practice recently with modern silver coins due to high silver prices). It was increased to 90% silver in 1854 to encourage greater circulation. Silver three-cent coins were produced from 1851-1873 with a total mintage of 42.7M.
(Photo credit PCGS CoinFacts)
Economic conditions during the Civil War lead to widespread hoarding of gold and silver coins. One of the government’s responses was to issue a nickel-copper three-cent coin in 1865. Intended only as a stopgap measure until hoarding ended, nickel three-cent coins were produced from 1865 to 1889 with a total mintage of 31.3M with more than 75% of those produced prior to 1870.
My first three-cent coin was an 1853 silver from Victory Calls (the old Webb Farm) on Saxapahaw Bethlehem Church Rd. in February. This month I was lucky enough to find the nickel three-cent at another historic farm on the same road! From a detecting standpoint, these are very rare coins indeed, for a variety of reasons. First, both have very low mintage compared to many other coins (compare: 245M seated dimes, 500M barber dimes, 1800M quarters in 1965 alone). Both three-cent coins also have other limitations that make them particularly difficult to detect. For the silver trime, the problem is one of size. Being both smaller than a dime and considerably thinner, they can be very difficult for a detector to pick up. Even more difficult to recover is the three-cent nickel, not due to size (it is the same size as a US dime) but metal composition. Silver is a high conductivity material, and gives a signal on the high end of the scale where not many trash targets appear (White’s VDI #’s 70-95). The copper-nickel alloy, on the other hand, appears very low on the scale where it can mimic many other materials and trash targets. (This is one reason many detectorists find so many more pennies/dimes/quarters than nickels). Being smaller than a US nickel, the three-cent nickel shows up even lower at the bottom of the scale (White’s VDI #’s 13-16). In a trashy location with many targets, this coin would be extremely easy to miss. I feel incredibly blessed to have found both types of this very rarely recovered coin. And so, without further ado, my new coin cases: