A scarce and seldom offered issue, the proof 1857 three cent piece was produced before the Philadelphia Mint instituted widespread sales of specimen strikings to collectors. Writing in 1977, Walter Breen traced the pedigree of 12 examples, but he also believed that a few other pieces probably survived.
In Proof condition, the 1857 "Trime" is a very scarce coin. Mint employees struck an estimated 75 Proofs, a number supported by the population report totals offered up by the major grading services. All of the examples we've seen appear to have been struck from the same die pair. All show weakness on the double outline of the shield at lower left, caused by either a weak impression from the hub or over-zealous polishing. Diagonal die lines appear on the obverse, the most noticeable of which runs between the 1 and the 8 of the date. On the reverse, flat planes can be seen around several of the stars on the reverse, This is an artifact from the star punch which was not effaced from the die.
Despite the rarity of the Proof 1857 Three-Cent Silvers, many high-grade examples exist, usually in PR64 and PR65. No examples are known above PR66. Cameo examples are exceedingly rare.
Bob R. Simpson Collection
Stack's/Bowers 2/2015:1263, not sold - Heritage 9/2016:5406, $12,925