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Q: 1861 Three-cent silver piece misstrike? ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: 1861 Three-cent silver piece misstrike?
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: magellanic-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 24 Nov 2002 16:10 PST
Expires: 24 Dec 2002 16:10 PST
Question ID: 113870
Short version:  I have an 1861 three-cent silver piece and the coin
back appears flipped compared to any other US coin I've seen.  Is my
coin misstruck or is that how the coin is supposed to look?

Long version (and more details):

I have several three-cent silver pieces.  My 1861 coin seems to have
its reverse side flipped compared to the others.  Ie, I hold all the
coins obverse toward me and pointing up, then flip them around a
vertical axis, four coins (1852, 1853, 1854, and 1858) show the
reverse upside-down ("C" opening to the left).  The 1861 coin shows
the reverse right-side up ("C" opening to the right).

I know that there are several variations of the three-cent silver
pieces, and that my 1861 is the only "sub-type 3"
that I have.  But, the descriptions of all the variants seem to do
with the number of outlines around the star on the observe and whether
there's an olive branch near the III on the reverse.  Nothing is ever
said about how the reverse and obverse are aligned with each other.

So, my question, then is:  which of the following is true?
(a)  My coin is normal -- that's just how the mint struck all of them.
(b)  My coin is mis-struck -- the reverse really should be flipped,
just like the rest of my three-cent silver coins.
(c)  My coin is a counterfeit -- someone faked an old coin (badly) to
make some fast cash.
(d)  Some other hypothesis that I didn't think of.
Subject: Re: 1861 Three-cent silver piece misstrike?
Answered By: playhosea-ga on 24 Nov 2002 17:22 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi. Thanks for the detailed question. 

I've done about a good amount of research on it and I believe that the
most likely possibility is that your coin is misstruck. After
consulting numerous sources, none of them have suggested the possible
error on the 1861 type 3 three cent piece that you've mentioned. Here
is a link to a photo of the coin you mentioned and as you can see the
"C" opens to the right. I believe this, along with the information
from confirms that the normal alignment orientation has
the "C" opening to the right side.

Here's a few other websites, with photos that imply the silver three
cent pieces all have the "C" opening to the right.

Here is an article that gives a very thorough background on the 1861
type 3 three cent piece, but never the reverse-obverse alignment
possibility. If the "C" opening to the left orientation is normal, I'd
imagine that such a comprehensive article would mention it. 

My search revealed only a few mentions of counterfeit three cent
coins. It appears, there have been more cases of counterfeit two-cent
pieces. Here is a site that mentions counterfeit three-cent pieces
from 1864.

Alas, this is only my conclusion and I am not a coin professional. To
be certain you have a misstruck, I suggest you contact an expert in
the coin industry. Here is a list of clubs and certification services
that may be of further assistance.

I'm not sure how devoted of a coin collector you are, but if you
haven't already, check out the site of Professional Coin Grading
Services. They may be able to help you gain additional confirmation. 

Again, based on my findings, I think you can eliminate option A, as
you described it, from the range of possibility. The most likely
situation is option B or perhaps D, but I can't imagine another
scenario than the original three you described. Options C remains a
possibility, but I believe it's unlikely.

Hope this helps!

Search Strategy: "1861 Three Cent Pieces" "Three Cent Pieces" "1861 3
Cent Pieces" "Type 3 Three Cent Pieces" "Silver Three Cent Pieces"


Clarification of Answer by playhosea-ga on 25 Nov 2002 01:10 PST
Whoops. I'm incredibly sorry, I missed that. Glad you found the information, though.
magellanic-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Super; thanks!  From the first link you provided I found which is someone's attempt
to build a census of all rotated die coins.  My 1861 three-cent silver
is definitely among the 180-degree rotated set.  According to the
site, there's at least 30 other such 1861 three-cent silver coins as
well (the one pictured in the link you found being one in particular).
 That pretty much answers my question.  Thanks!

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