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Three Cent Silver (3CS) Prices And Questionable Color Schemes

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United States
27 Posts
 Posted 10/17/2020  1:08 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Dieuwer to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
As I wrote in my post in the Newbie forum, I just finished a first row of coins in my 19th century type set (nickels) and now I am looking at Two Cent and Three Cent pieces.
What I found "amazing" is the high prices people ask/pay for an arguably minuscule coin. I have seen prices on eBay and other well-known classical coin auction websites for about uncirculated grades go for hundreds of dollars! Seems like a lot for a coin smaller than my pinkie.
I have also noticed that there are a lot of 3CS coins for sale that have rainbow or other "questionable" color schemes (IMHO) that fetch even higher prices. Note that it seems that these color schemes appear mostly on 3CS coins (AFAIK) and not on many other types of coins.
Having a background in chemistry and spectroscopy, I know for a fact that silver cannot form colored compounds other than the usual black, brown, red-brown, orange-brown, yellow, and white. No blues or greens. Three Cent silver pieces do contain 10-25% copper and copper can form compounds that are blue or green, so perhaps it is the copper that comes to the surface of these coins and give them the rainbow color. But then again other copper containing coins do not have these color schemes as much as 3CS pieces. So it is all very suspicious to me.

As a result, I have decided to only search for "normal looking" 3CS pieces that are graded by NGC and PCGS.

What do you think?
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7529 Posts
 Posted 10/17/2020  1:15 pm  Show Profile   Check GrapeCollects's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GrapeCollects to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Well the reason people, including myself, have paid hundreds for uncirculated examples is an issue of supply and demand. Many people want them, but there aren't a lot to go around.

On the toning part I'm not sure where you got your background in chemistry, as your statement is just factually wrong. I have a small collection of pure silver coins that have toned shades of brilliant red, pink, green, blue, gold and other colors. This is not uncommon. It's a byproduct of environmental storage. The reason people pay much more for them is that they are seen as more attractive then a base coin.

To add to this proof coins are even more susceptible to toning, and often have much for advanced (colorful) toning then their business strike sisters.
My best finds: 1999-WAM:http://goccf.com/t/332161 1988-RDV-6:http://goccf.com/t/335954#2873459 1986-Off-center: http://goccf.com/t/335952
1999 WAM #2:http://goccf.com/t/338710&whichpage=1
1981 Double Struck In Collar: http://goccf.com/t/350199&whichpage=1
ANA id: 3194067
My Type Set: https://www.NGCcoin.com/registry/co...sets/236574/
If you want to buy something or sell something or just talk, shoot me a PM!
New Member
United States
27 Posts
 Posted 10/17/2020  1:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Dieuwer to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
My statement that silver cannot form colored compounds other than black, brown, red-brown, orange-brown, yellow, and white is factually correct.
The ONLY way a silver coin could become colored in greens, blues, etc. is if there was another material touching the coin and depositing something onto the surface. So, the color you would see is NOT some form of silver, it is something completely different.
Edited by Dieuwer
10/17/2020 1:24 pm
Pillar of the Community
United States
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 Posted 10/17/2020  1:45 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add twslisa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Welcome to the community!

I make no claim to be any sort of expert, especially on 3 cent coins, BUT I can point to a graded proof 3 cent that has some pretty colorful toning. I'm also no chemist but toned Morgan silver dollars are a "thing" in collecting circles, and there are coins with legit toning that is pretty spectacular. There are collectors who love it and will pay a premium for it, but it's not for everyone.

I'd love to see an explanation why "Rainbow" toning is relatively common with Morgans and you rarely see legit toning (other than brown, black or yellow/gold) with many other silver coins. It can't be just about storage, since I assume that coin rolls, coin albums, and coin bags are pretty much the same for every type of coin. Humidity does seem to play some partóMorgans minted in New Orleans, especially in the early to mid 1880's, seem to be toned a lot more often. (It occurs to me to ask why I haven't seen as many with S mint marks.)

I'lll be interested to see what others say on this topic.
Edited by twslisa
10/17/2020 1:50 pm
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 Posted 10/17/2020  2:18 pm  Show Profile   Check GrapeCollects's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GrapeCollects to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I'd love to see an explanation why "Rainbow" toning is relatively common with Morgans and you rarely see legit toning (other than brown, black or yellow/gold) with many other silver coins.


In part it has to do with the relief of certain coins as well as some other factors. While toned morgans are common, Peace dollars, WLHD, and SLQs for example are extremely scarce with attractive toning
My best finds: 1999-WAM:http://goccf.com/t/332161 1988-RDV-6:http://goccf.com/t/335954#2873459 1986-Off-center: http://goccf.com/t/335952
1999 WAM #2:http://goccf.com/t/338710&whichpage=1
1981 Double Struck In Collar: http://goccf.com/t/350199&whichpage=1
ANA id: 3194067
My Type Set: https://www.NGCcoin.com/registry/co...sets/236574/
If you want to buy something or sell something or just talk, shoot me a PM!
Pillar of the Community
United States
534 Posts
 Posted 10/17/2020  2:30 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add twslisa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Agree, GrapeCollects! Most toned PD's have kind of a sickly yellow color, and the one I saw In hand with rainbow toning was almost certainly AT'd.
New Member
United States
27 Posts
 Posted 10/17/2020  3:05 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Dieuwer to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It would be interesting if someone was willing to submit his/her toned coin for non-destructive analysis and get a composition map of the surface of the toned coin. An example would be to submit the coin for SEM-EDX or XRF analysis.

Here is an interesting paper on surface color analysis using EDS on a Saudi Arabia coin hoard: https://www.researchgate.net/public...conservation
Edited by Dieuwer
10/17/2020 3:10 pm
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 Posted 10/17/2020  3:12 pm  Show Profile   Check Yokozuna's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Yokozuna to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
to the CCF!

Here's a detail from a 1992 Silver Eagle error coin. The colors you see formed over the last 38 years with the coin in an ANACS slab. I have no idea what was on the coin or if it might have been something in the grease (the coin has a large strike through) that caused the error. It's the only toned ASE that I have.

Click on the photo for a larger image
The first US coin motto was found on a 1792 half disme and read: "LIB (erty) PAR (ent) OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY"


New Member
United States
27 Posts
 Posted 10/17/2020  3:35 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Dieuwer to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The green drab might be PVC damage?
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 Posted 10/17/2020  4:58 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Zurie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If you search for toned American Silver Eagles on eBay (which obviously are .999 fine), there are numerous examples of straight graded blue and green toned coins. I don't know the chemistry behind it, but perhaps it's an environmental contaminant on the surface that allows the blue/green color to appear. Certainly classic US coins contain enough copper to explain the toning.
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United States
316 Posts
 Posted 10/17/2020  5:30 pm  Show Profile   Check Lancek's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Lancek to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Plenty of artificially toned Morgans. For some reason that has been a hot button for certain collectors. The artificial stuff generally tones too bright of colors to look real.

I have a 78 Ike that has ver slight rainbow toning. Of course no silver in that.

But back to Three Cent silvers. There weren't many of them made. Especially in the later years. And these were in and out of peoples pockets like other small change. They are thin, and silver isn't very strong. Many get bent. Or pretty dinged up. So finding a nice AU example is tough, therefore expensive.

I do think they have a tendency to tone some pretty colors. Not sure why you see that more in the series than say half dimes. But you do. I've never seen one that I thought was artificially toned. I have an AU example with a very light rainbow toning on the back.
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United States
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 Posted 10/17/2020  6:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Dieuwer to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I had a look at the three different "types" of Three Cent silvers and I believe I like the last type best. It seems to have the largest, clearest star of the three which is neat.
As the last poster mentioned, apparently not many made in type 3. I guess I just have to pony up the money.
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 Posted 10/17/2020  6:33 pm  Show Profile   Check GrapeCollects's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GrapeCollects to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Actually the rarest and most expensive is the Type 2. Type 1 and Type 3 are both common and affordable in mint state. Try finding a problem free MS Type 2 for under $1000
My best finds: 1999-WAM:http://goccf.com/t/332161 1988-RDV-6:http://goccf.com/t/335954#2873459 1986-Off-center: http://goccf.com/t/335952
1999 WAM #2:http://goccf.com/t/338710&whichpage=1
1981 Double Struck In Collar: http://goccf.com/t/350199&whichpage=1
ANA id: 3194067
My Type Set: https://www.NGCcoin.com/registry/co...sets/236574/
If you want to buy something or sell something or just talk, shoot me a PM!
Bedrock of the Community
Australia
17402 Posts
 Posted 10/17/2020  6:42 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Rainbow colors are possible with toned silver coins.
The reason why delicate blues and greens exist has to to with color layers being so extremely thin (at molecule size !)
that normally black sulfides and oxides set up color interference in the same way as an oil slick does on water.

As such, rainbow coloring is extremely delicate.
Thus being so, it is also unstable over time in terms of color permanency. For this reason, it is absolutely essential that coins with beautiful rainbow toning are stored in an airtight environment to maintain the beautiful appearance as long as possible.

After it is all said and done, toning and patination is just another form of surface corrosion that is expressed in a euphamistic way. Good deep and even patination can protect the meatal underneath to enhance appearance as well as value.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


As an aside, with a high MS silver coin, I prefer blast white, not due to appearance, but because that is closest to the condition when it first emerged from the coining press.
Edited by sel_69l
10/17/2020 6:55 pm
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United States
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 Posted 10/17/2020  7:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Dieuwer to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I am not sure what is "affordable" to GrapeCollects, but it seems AU varieties of type 3 run in the several hundreds of dollars.
Edited by Dieuwer
10/17/2020 7:23 pm
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 Posted 10/17/2020  8:12 pm  Show Profile   Check GrapeCollects's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GrapeCollects to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I am not sure what is "affordable" to GrapeCollects


Depends on the series. If I wanted a mint state draped bust coin I'd go with the half, that runs around 8k or so, which given the rarity of bust coins overall, and the conditional rarity attached is quite affordable and reasonable. Especially when the other denominations in the same grade start at 30k. In the context of 3CS I have no issue spending a few hundred on a mint state example, given the low overall mintages and survival rates I actually think the 3CS is undervalued in MS by the current market.
My best finds: 1999-WAM:http://goccf.com/t/332161 1988-RDV-6:http://goccf.com/t/335954#2873459 1986-Off-center: http://goccf.com/t/335952
1999 WAM #2:http://goccf.com/t/338710&whichpage=1
1981 Double Struck In Collar: http://goccf.com/t/350199&whichpage=1
ANA id: 3194067
My Type Set: https://www.NGCcoin.com/registry/co...sets/236574/
If you want to buy something or sell something or just talk, shoot me a PM!
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