Only 900 business strikes were made. The 1883 Three Dollar has the lowest mintage figure of nearly any affordable 19th century U.S. gold coin. After all, how many regular issues have a mintage of just 900 coins yet can be purchased in high-end AU grades for less than $5,000? This is a very high end example with semi-prooflike surfaces that show lovely coppery-orange color on the obverse and reverse. There is just a smidgen of wear seen on both sides and the fields are clean and attractive. One of the really fun sets to assemble is a date run of Three Dollar gold pieces from 1879 to 1889. This ten year group includes a number of low mintage coins (three have fewer than 1,000 business strikes) yet nothing is very expensive or impossibly hard to find. The last PCGS 55 example of an 1883 to sell at auction was B+M 2/08: 2514 which brought $3,795.
The low mintage Philadelphia issues tend to get the attention in the Three Dollar series. But the branch mint issues from San Francisco range from slightly scarce (1856-S) to unique (1870-S) and the 1857-S is one of my favorite of the five Three Dollars issues made at this mint. Only 14,000 were struck and this date is scarce in all grades. I bought this coin due to its exceptional eye appeal for the grade. It is sharply impressed (except for some lightness on the date) and it shows very pleasing rich natural honey-gold color. This is unusual for the issue as nearly every 1857-S has been cleaned at one time. In fact, I regard the 1857-S as one of the rarest Three Dollar gold pieces with original color and surfaces and it is almost never seen in Choice EF with good eye appeal.
One of just 2,630 struck and the second rarest Civil War Three Dollar gold piece after the 1865. This is a beautiful, crisp example with lovely yellow-gold and rose color atop highly lustrous surfaces. As on all known business strikes of this date there are some vertical striations as made but the luster and "flash" of the surfaces make these very unobtrusive. A few tiny marks at the lower obverse are really all that keep this from a much higher grade and it is a coin of uncommon appeal for the date. The last MS62 to appear at auction was back in March 2009 and only five pieces in this grade have sold at auction since 2004. Only one other 1864 Three Dollar in MS62 has received CAC approval. Great value at current levels as are so many dates in this series.
Of the 5,959 business strikes produced, it is likely that most were melted and the 1861 is a popular Civil war issue that is scarce in all grades. The typical example is found in circulated grades and is characterized by heavy mint-made striations. The slightly prooflike example has the naked-eye appearance of a Choice Uncirculated and has just a few wispy hairlines on the obverse. Both sides show attractive light green-gold and rosy orange hues and there are no marks of note. In the last decade, fewer than ten examples have appeared at auction in MS62 and this date becomes rare and expensive in MS63 and above. This would be a great time to put together a nice set of Civil War three dollar gold pieces as the coins are available from time to time and seem reasonably priced compared to other denominations of this era.