Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Featured Find: A pair of 3's

Hey everyone!

I received my order of new coin cases from 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:


  1. I would LOVE to find one of these. The mintage date and quantities make it a probable find even in my post Civil War city. Good to know that the Nickel 3 cent reads so low in the VDI, Considering that most people will discriminate and ignore that low of an ID number, there ought to be LOTS of those coins waiting to be unearthed.

  2. Neither coin was particularly popular, but you're right, given the numbers there's still enough out there for you to find one. Honestly, if that nickel had been in a trashy park instead of a quiet field, I probably would have let that "gum wrapper" stay in the ground! LOL