1873 $3 Closed 3 MS64 Certification #05652809, PCGS #7995
Bright blazing cameo appearance, formerly of the Bass collection
David Akers (1975/88)In contrast to the popularly accepted notion, I have listed the Closed 3 variety of 1873 ahead of the Open 3 variety because, in my opinion, it preceeded the Open 3 variety chronologically. It seems illogical to me that all other original issues of the 1873, including trial pieces in copper and aluminum, should have a Closed 3, while only the "originals" of the 1873 three dollar gold piece have an Open 3. As further evidence that the Closed 3 variety is not a restrike, I point to the fact that there are many known specimens, perhaps as many as 40 or 50, that clearly began life as business strikes. Had they been made as restrikes, and therefore clandestine issues, they undoubtedly would have been proofs and also would more than likely have been well preserved over the years. However, most known examples that I have seen (cf. the piece in Stack's February, 1974 sale) bear little resemblance to proofs save for a partially proof-like surface. In my opinion, they are business strikes that were made for commercial purposes, although I must admit that I have no explanation as to why they are not accounted for in the Mint report. Based on the number of specimens that I have seen and on the number of auction records in comparison to some of the other low mintage dates in the series, I would estimate that at least 200 or 300 pieces were minted, possibly more.
One variety of the 1873 Closed 3 three dollar gold piece is markedly "dished", that is, it has a convex obverse and concave reverse. This variety is the so-called "dished restrike". However, Harry Bass claims that the dished pieces are, in fact, true originals. I feel that these dished pieces are merely the proofs with the Closed 3, whereas the other Closed 3 pieces are all business strikes. Therefore, since both were, in my opinion, minted in 1873, both can lay legitimate claim to being "originals".
James Barton Longacre
90% Gold, 10% Copper
The United States of America
Auctions - PCGS Graded
Auctions - NGC Graded