Wayne E. writes:
I recently found an old coin in a small container with some other items. Its smaller than a dime, silver, and on one side has a star encircled by “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, and “III” in the center. What is it?
You have a silver three-cent piece. These coins were the smallest United States silver coins ever authorized by Congress. They were used initially to purchase postage stamps and to alleviate a terrible coin shortage. The coin was minted from 1851-1873 and includes three different design varieties. All were made at the Philadelphia Mint except for one issue minted at the New Orleans Mint in 1851. There is also a nickel 3 cent piece that was created to replace the silver 3 cent coins. They were a mainstay of small change from 1865 to 1889.