David Akers (1975/88): The 1881 is notable in that it has the lowest official mintage of any three dollar gold piece regularly issued for circulation. Despite the ultra low mintage of only 554 pieces, a figure which includes 54 proofs, the 1881 ranks only 21st in rarity in our 238 catalogue auction survey according to the number of appearances and 28th in rarity according to average grade. Every specimen that I have seen is proof-like.
Although with most dates the tendency is to mistake first strike uncirculated pieces for proofs, I can say that in the case of the 1881, I have seen several proofs called first strike uncs! Actually choice uncs and proofs of this date are about equal in rarity and bring approximately the same price when offered at auction.
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