Among the most interesting, illogical, and curious American coin denominations is the gold $3 issue first minted in 1854 with great expectations for popularity in circulation, and last made in 1889. Although the $2.50 gold quarter eagle was already popular in circulation, many $3 paper currency notes were in commerce as well, issued by various state-chartered banks. In the first year, coinage was accomplished at the Philadelphia, Dahlonega, and Charlotte mints. Hopes did not equate with reality, and the coins were not widely accepted in commerce, probably due to the closeness in value to the $2.50. As a side note, my first encounter with such a coin was in the early 1950s, when, as a teenager, I paid the strong price of $35 for a Gem 1854 offered for sale in a coin shop in the Redington Hotel in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Despite this, coinage continued year after year, mostly at the Philadelphia Mint, although 1854-D, 1854-O, and 1855-S, 1856-S, 1857-S, and 1870-S (just two this year, for ceremonial purposes for placement in the cornerstone of the new San Francisco Mint as construction began; only one such coin is known today and is on display at the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Memorial Gallery at American Numismatic Association Headquarters in Colorado Springs), There was a slight bump in production quantity in 1874 and 1878, These coins circulated widely, and today most seen in numismatic circles show light wear. In 1858 at the Philadelphia Mint, only 2,133 were made, creating what would be later viewed as a numismatic rarity. Gold coins of all denominations did not circulate widely after the Civil War and in the east and midwest were only available at banks by paying a premium for them. Proofs in small numbers continued to be made for the numismatic trade. In 1875 and 1876 only Proofs were made, with no production for circulation.
Today these are prized rarities, and the room is up for grabs whenever examples come up for auction. Lots of fun!