Ron Guth: In 1854, the Mint made a couple of changes to the Three-Cent Silver pieces to comply with the Coinage Act of 1853. First, they increased the percentage of silver in the coin from 75% to 90% to match the other silver coins in circulation. To keep the actual amount of silver the same, the weight of the coin was reduced from .80 grams to .75 grams. The diameter remained the same at 14 millimeters. Two outlines were added around the star (in previous years there were no outlines), presumably to indicate that these changes had been made, just as the arrows and/or rays were added to other silver coins in 1853.
Though this is technically the first year of a new sub-type, collectors seem to have paid little attention back in 1854, as there is no upward skewing of the quality of the surviving population. If anything, there was a decline in the numbe of coins set aside by collectors because the quantity of Mint State survivors is actually lower than it is for 1853.
Fully struck examples are scarce, and clashmarks are seen frequently. The typical Mint State grade is MS-64, but MS-65 examples, while less plentiful, can be found with relative ease. The finest examples certified by PCGS include two at the MS67 level.
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