The 1851 Silver Three-Cent Piece is a truly remarkable coin. Not only is it the first of a very limited number of three-cent pieces to have ever been created by the US Mint, it is also heralded as being the smallest and lightest US coin ever made. Thanks to the era in which it was minted, as well as its size, the overall design of the coin is quite simplistic. This is so because technology at that time did not allow for great detail on small coins.
On the coin’s obverse, you will find in the center the shield of the United States as it was known at the time. The Shield exists within a 6-pointed star, both of which are raised off the surface of the coin, giving it a bit of texture. Around the very outer edge of the obverse there is an inscription which reads United States of America, while the 1851 year of minting is inscribed in the center at the bottom.
On the coin’s reverse, the simplicity is continued. In the center, a Roman Numeral 3 is inscribed, and this represents the coin’s face value. In somewhat strange fashion, the central face value is partially surrounded by a large, eloquent “C.” Around the outside of this central imagery you will find 13 stars, representative of the 13 original colonies of the United States of America.
For collectors, dealing with the 1851 Silver Three-Cent Piece is especially difficult because it is such an obscure, rare coin. In other words, everyone wants to get their hands on these pieces. Knowing this, it follows that there are plenty of counterfeits circulating around the market right now. Understanding this, collectors will only purchase those coins that have been graded and certified as being authentic. Below, you will find an outline of the different coin grades as well as what they mean for the appearance of the coin.
Uncirculated: If an 1851 Silver Three-Cent Piece is determined to be of Uncirculated grade, this means that the coin was never let out onto the open market. As such, these pieces will appear today exactly the same as they did all the way back in 1851. Unfortunately, Uncirculated coins are quite difficult to find.
Extremely Fine: If an 1851 Silver Three-Cent Piece has been determined to be of Extremely Fine grade, this means that the coin in question is in perfect condition save for a few, minor flaws. Though these flaws are often incredibly difficult to find with the naked eye, they do exist and will be taken into account during the grading process.
Fine: Fine is the grade given to coins that were circulated, but not so heavily damaged. You will notice that the surfaces of these coins have been worn and scratched thanks to the exchanging of hands over the years, but the overall condition of the coin will have been decently preserved.
Good: Good is the grade given to coins that have been both heavily circulated and heavily damaged. These pieces will have a lot of scratching and chipping, and some of the surface imagery will have been worn away. Still, these pieces are incredibly sought after by most collectors.
In terms of determining the price you might be asked to pay for the 1851 Three-Cent Piece, this is something that can be determined by a few different factors. For one, the condition of the coin is something that has a lot of bearing on the price. In addition to this, the overall scarcity of the coin is something that cannot be ignored. Below, you will find a chart outlining what you might be asked to pay for a graded 1851 Silver Three-Cent Piece.
Three Cent Silver
|1851 Three Cent Silver||$25||$50||$80||$150|
|1851 Three Cent Silver (O)||$40||$75||$175||$250||Source: Red Book|