Gold coins are rare in and of themselves. The US in particular has only a few, scant examples. However, those few usually have great stories attached to them, and the 1870-S $3 coin is no different.
The $3 coin was created in 1853 to tie-in with the US postal system. One coin would be worth an entire sheet of stamps (100 stamps for 3 cents each). The US was still on the gold standard at the time, so the $3 coin was also a useful way to exchange several smaller coins for good old gold. At .9 fine, the $3 coin was good indeed.
The US never produced the coin in consistent numbers from year to year. In particular, the year 1870 stands out. Only two $3 coins were said to be minted that year. To commemorate the new US mint building in San Francisco, a $3 coin was created to be placed in the building’s cornerstone. Philadelphia minted the coin and sent it over to San Francisco, where it was placed in the cornerstone. While it sounds like a done deal, that’s where the story gets interesting.
For some unknown reason, the coin was removed from the cornerstone and damaged, then subsequently lost. When it could not be recovered, a second coin was ordered and shipped to San Francisco.
Those are the only two $3 coins on record for 1870. However, a new coin resurfaced this year. Where did it come from? What is it worth? Find out in our next blog post!