Best Buy: Three Dollar Gold Princess Coins
The $3 gold piece is one of our country’s scarcest and most fascinating gold coins. While the coin never caught on with the general public, it has been a coveted collectible since the 19th century. Numismatists have always been drawn to the $3 ‘‘princess’’ due to its unusual denomination, extreme rarity, and attractive design.
However, we find the $3 gold coin especially intriguing at today’s market levels—uncirculated coins are currently 40-60% off their peak prices. At decade-low prices, this historic, beautiful and enigmatic gold coin represents tremendous value and opportunity.
We have been able to put together a number of coins in two different grades and two different dates (1874 and 1878). And, we are able to offer them to you (delivered) for less than the current price guides suggest.* Call 800-831-0007 to get yours today.
History and Rarity
The $3 gold piece can trace its roots to 1845, when the federal government authorized the first postage stamps. The price per stamp was initially five cents, but this rate was considered too high. To spur stamp purchases, the unit price was lowered to three cents in 1851.
Simultaneously, a 3¢ silver coin was introduced to make buying stamps easier. The price reduction helped postage stamps gain traction with the public. As a result, usage flourished in the early and mid-1850s. The U.S. Mint followed suit by striking over 35,000,000 three cent silver coins from 1851-1853.
Given the popularity of three cent stamps and their corresponding silver coins, politicians began contemplating a $3 gold coin. Not only would the coin help facilitate buying sheets of stamps, but bankers could also use them to trade for rolls of 3¢ coins. Furthermore, there was a temporary surplus of gold flowing in from the California gold rush, and the Mint was looking for new ways to convert this gold into coinage.
Once congress approved the new $3 gold piece in early 1853, U.S. Mint Chief Engraver James Longacre began work on the coin’s design. He faced a challenge with the $3 coin. He needed to clearly differentiate it from the quarter eagle and half eagle.
His proposed solution was to make the coin large and flat—clearly different in size from the quarter eagle—and give it a totally unique motif. His goal was to make the design uniquely American with an Indian princess on the obverse and a wreath of corn, wheat, cotton and tobacco on the reverse.
Production began in 1854 and started strong; over 30% of all $3 coins ever struck were minted in 1854. Unfortunately, these large mintages were the result of wishful thinking, not actual demand. The public largely rejected the coin, deeming it too similar in size to the half eagle. It has also been questioned whether the average American typically bought sheets of stamps—after all $3 was still a sizeable amount of money at the time. In the following years, mintages slumped tremendously, never to return to their 1854 levels.
Despite the lukewarm reception, the Philadelphia Mint continued to produce $3 coins for another 35 years. Mintages were anemic; in many years fewer than 5,000 pieces were struck. Dies for the $3 coin were sent to the branch mints repeatedly in the 1850s and 1860s, but they refused to strike the coins. Demand was so low that in 1875 and 1876, only a small number of proofs were made for collectors. No coins were made for circulation. According to mint records, 49,087 $3 pieces were melted in the 1890s.
While the general public had little use for the coin, early coin dealers were already touting them as collectibles. Philadelphia-based firms would buy the coins at face value from the mint and sell them to collectors throughout the country. Since the coins were almost never seen in circulation, they had a novelty factor and traded for a premium outside of Philadelphia. The $3 piece was also a popular component in jewelry. Today, many surviving specimens show evidence of mounting, solder and polishing.
Finally, in 1889, the $3 gold piece was quietly discontinued with a paltry mintage of 2,300 pieces that year. Now officially obsolete, the coin’s value as a collectible began to climb. In the 1920s, for example, most 19th century gold coins were only worth face value, but $3 pieces were already trading for sizeable premiums. U.S. gold coin collecting was still in its infancy, but the $3 “princess” was one of the first items to be actively pursued by numismatists.
Rarity and Market Values
Simply put, the $3 piece is the rarest U.S. gold coin made for circulation. Most U.S. gold coin series have common and scarce issues, but every $3 date is considered rare. Over 36 years of production, only 538,174 pieces were struck. To put this in perspective, 538,174 coins might have represented a month’s worth of $5 gold coin production during that same era. Furthermore, the mintages only tell half the story, as a substantial percentage of $3 coins were later melted.
The lion’s share of $3 gold pieces show mild circulation and/or signs of jewelry use. Grades of Very Fine and Extremely Fine are most frequently encountered. For example, the unique 1870-S $3 coin (estimated to be worth several million dollars) is Extremely Fine with light cleaning, engraving, and evidence of having been mounted. Problem-free Mint State $3 princesses are very scarce and represent the minority of all survivors.
Currently, uncirculated $3 gold coins are trading for tremendous discounts compared to their 2006 highs. In fact, current values are the lowest we’ve experienced in a decade. When NGC first started tracking $3 gold piece values in 2005, MS61s were worth over $4,000 and MS62s were fetching over $5,000. Values peaked in mid-2006 at $5500 and $8,880 respectively.
Prices corrected in early 2007, but rose again in late 2007 and early 2008. The series surged again in 2010 and 2012, but has since retreated to the lowest levels seen in over ten years.
MS61 NGC Price Guide Values
MS62 Price Guide Values
In summary, at today’s levels, $3 gold pieces can be bought for a 51-65% discount to their 2006 peaks. The supply of these coins is extremely tight; enhanced collector interest could very well push $3 gold pieces back to their 2006 levels.
Take Advantage of this Opportunity…
An extremely compelling argument could be made for the $3 gold piece based on its story and rarity alone. Its philatelic connection, fascinating background and limited production have intrigued collectors since the 1880s. With the coin trading at less than half of its recent peak value, we couldn’t be more excited about the $3 gold piece today. Simply put, this is an historic opportunity to buy one of America’s most historic coins!
Please call for pricing and avaliability.
or email me today
to purchase your coins and to take advantage of this opportunity.
*Prices subject to change due to product availability and market fluctuation.