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of United States Rare Coins

July 2017

$3 Gold Princess Rarities Difficult to Acquire

     There are forty collectable dates in the $3 Gold Princess series, 1854 through 1889. Many of these dates are so rare that it is nearly impossible to acquire them in high Mint State grades. Even the more common MS65 dates are not easy to locate other than the 1854, 1874, and 1878. Most MS65 $3 Gold coins have less than 10 coins certified in the grade, and the dates prior to 1874 have fewer than five available.

     The most common $3 Gold coin by mintage is the 1854 Philadelphia with 138,618; after that comes the 1878 with 82,324 and then the 1874 with 41,820. Based on the value of these three coins, they are also the most common by price up through the Mint State grades, until the MS63 & MS64, where the 1874 and 1878 are the two most common dates of the series by value.

     The 1874 and 1878 in MS63 are listed at $3,100 FMV and in MS64 at $4,130. In the higher grades, the 1878 is the most common date based on value. The MS65 is at $9,750 FMV and population is 331 in this grade, which is by far the most populated of all $3 Gold dates. It also has the largest population above MS65 with a total of 143 in these upper grades.

1855 S $3 MS63 NGC Finest-Certified

1855 S $3 MS63 NGC (Finest-Certified) is available at the Heritage Auctions ANA U.S. Coins Signature Auction in Denver, Colorado, August 2-6, 2017

     Most collectors know that rarity is determined by various factors. Looking strictly in terms of value, the rarest dates have been listed in the following chart showing the highest grade certified, the current FMV, the population in the highest grade, and the original mintage.

1854 DMS62$195,00021,120
1854 OMS63$108,130124,000
1855 SMS63$91,00016,600
1860 SMS62$49,38027,000

     Considering the mintage alone, one would think the 1858 with 2,133 coins minted should belong on this list; however, previous sales do not support higher values. The MS65 is currently listed at $48,130 which is in the middle of the price range of all the MS65 coins in this series. Also not included was the 1870 S because it is unique and not collectable as such.

     There are ten other $3 Gold coins that are rare in their highest grade. The dates that maintain the highest FMV in MS65 and above are the 1858, 1865, 1869, 1870, 1872, and 1886. The lowest FMV of this group is the 1858 at $48,130. The total number of coins grading MS65 and higher in this group of six dates is a mere 10 coins. The 1865 has the most at 5 coins with MS66+ the highest grade. The highest original mintage is the 1870 with 3,535 coins. As with most of the coins in this series the number that survived is extremely low because they were minted for commerce and the type of person who could “collect” in those days had to be considerably well-off. Collecting these dates in the lower grades of MS63 and MS64 is still a formidable task.

     Another group of rare highest date $3 Gold coins are those that maintain the highest FMV in MS64. The 1856 S, 1857 S, 1873 Closed 3, and 1877 are all rare with low original mintages, low current populations, and high values. Of this group the 1856 S is the least valuable at $51,350 and the most valuable of these four is the 1857 S and 1877, both have an FMV of $81,250. An interesting point about the 1856 S: with an original mintage of 34,500, there are only 39 Mint State coins certified while there are 958 in all circulated grades from AG2 through AU58+. This means that less than 4% of the certified population is in Mint State condition.

     As you can see $3 Gold is a very difficult series to collect in high grades and pursuing the finest certified coins to complete a set could be impractical. Many of the highest grades are in the hands of avid collectors and are not available. Based on the assumption that the fourteen coins previously mentioned are not obtainable, collectors should focus their pursuits on the lower grades for these particular dates.

     That leaves 26 other dates where the higher grades are at least somewhat available. We have already mentioned the numbers available for the 1854, 1874, and 1878. Listed below are some dates that are more affordable and may offer value when comparing current FMV and population for the grade.


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