With only 500 coins struck, the 1881 three-dollar gold piece has the lowest mintage among the circulation issues, which were produced from 1854 through 1889. The entire mintage was achieved in a single delivery in June or July of 1881 and many coins remained as bullion reserves until being destroyed through melting. It is thought that just about 300 examples survive in all grades, though the vast majority show considerable handling or impairments. A small number of examples, perhaps 125 or so, were retrieved from banks through the efforts of numismatic dealers such as Thomas L. Elder, who sent circular letters to cashiers and tellers. Since Elder and others were active during the early 20th century, the coins they retrieved had already been handled and impaired for several decades. Mint State examples remain incredibly rare, with only about 50 Uncirculated survivors known.
We are excited to offer a truly exceptional MS-64 (NGC) CAC example in lot 4100 of our November 2021 Showcase Auction. It is one of the very finest graded by NGC and is in an old no-line NGC holder which should add to its desirability. It displays vivid medium gold color with a predominantly satin texture and reflective tendencies in the fields. Smooth for the grade and visually appealing, this coin is sure to find its way into a highly regarded collection of this challenging 19th century gold series.
This exceptional top pop 1881 three-dollar gold piece will be showcased in lot 4100 in the Rarities Night session of our November 2021 Auction, scheduled for Tuesday, November 23. For more information on this auction or to consign your numismatic treasures to a future sale, contact our firm at 800-566-2580 or email [email protected]. Stack’s Bowers Galleries is now accepting consignments of U.S. coins and currency for our March 2022 Showcase Auction, while our monthly Collectors Choice Online Auctions offer a convenient venue for the quickest sale at the strongest prices.