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World’s Rarest US Gold Coin Rediscovered (?): Part 2

In our previous blog post, we talked about the history of the $3 gold coin. All versions of the coin are rare and valuable, but none more so than specimens from 1870 – of which there are only two. Or is it three?

After the first coin was lost, the San Francisco mint requested another one. For some reason this new coin was not minted correctly and was missing the “S” mintmark – as per the coin’s intended design. Local coiner J.B. Harmstead took the liberty of stamping the S mark onto the coin by hand. This made the S different from every other $3 coin in circulation – which had all been machine struck. With the first coin lost, this coin (with its unique S mintmark) is the only existing $3 coin from 1870.

The 1870-S never met its destiny at the center of the San Francisco mint’s cornerstone. Instead, it passed among collectors and is now on display at the American Numismatic Association Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo. As the only specimen of its kind, it was believed to be the rarest US coin in history. But earlier this year, another 1870-S turned up in Georgia.

Of course, that coin has its own interesting story. Look for details in our next blog post!

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