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Coin Resource Center Includes Entry on 1878 Three-Dollar Gold Pieces

1878 marked, in a sense, the beginning of the end for the three-dollar gold piece. A denomination superfluous almost from the time of its introduction, mintages receded to the low-to-mid four figures by the end of 1850s, where they remained through the 1860s. The 1870s saw two years with five-figure mintages, 1874 and 1878. The latter represented the series second-highest mintage at 82,304. For the remaining eleven years of the series, mintages rarely rose above 2,000. Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Coin Resource Center has entries covering the entire three-dollar gold piece series, including the 1878.

The large mintage in 1878 was a response to the Specie Resumption Act of January 14, 1875, which mandated that federally-issued paper currency be redeemed beginning on January 1, 1879. In anticipation of the resumption, large quantities of gold coins of every denomination were produced. The drop-off in mintages immediately thereafter suggests something about the denomination’s usefulness.

Type collectors gravitate towards the 1878, along with the series’ other most common dates — the 1854 and 1874 — because it is relatively affordable, even in higher grades.

Like other CRC entries, the entry covering the 1878 three-dollar gold piece includes links to recent auction appearances. The CRC is an evolving database and we invite knowledgeable readers to provide edits, if appropriate.

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