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1870-S Three Dollar Gold Piece

Obverse Reverse


Composition: .900 Gold, .100 Copper Diameter: 20.5mm
Weight: 5.015 grams / 77.4 grains Edge: Reeded

Last sold at public auction in October 1982 for $687,500 by Bowers and Ruddy as part of the Louis E. Eliasberg gold portion. Edgar H. Adams, a prolific numismatic writer of his time, wrote:
"Only one specimen of this coin is known, this being now in the possession of a well-known New York collector. It is said that the dies were used by a coiner of the San Francisco Mint to strike two specimens in 1870. One of those was placed in a cornerstone of a public building of that city. The mint records do not mention the issue of a coin of this denomination and letter".

A few years later, Adams and well-known coin collector, William H. Woodin of New York, would co-author a book, United States Pattern, Trial and Experimental Pieces. Only one 1870-S $3 Gold Piece has ever been accounted for, making one wonder if another really does exist in some "cornerstone of public building" in San Francisco or anywhere for that matter. Funny thing is though, that Adams and Woodin were apparently good friends and Woodin owned this specimen when Adams wrote that the mint records indicated two specimens were struck.

In fact, the records show only one being struck and placed in the cornerstone of the new San Francisco Mint building (which would open up for business four years later). Do you suppose maybe that Woodin didn't want to cause any unnecessary public arousal that he in fact owned the only specimen?

In public auction, the 1870-S $3 brought $1,450 in 1911 when purchased by Waldo C. Newcomer. Subsequent to trading hands a few more times it found a home in the great collection formed by Louis Eliasberg.

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