There had long been a shortage in commerce of big copper pennies. So in 1851 Congress issued silver 3 cent pieces, convenient for buying then new 3 cent postage stamps. The obverse design was a distinct departure from previous issues, featuring a unique six-pointed star and Union shield. On the reverse is a Roman numeral III within an ornate C (for 100). The compact 14mm size makes it the second smallest coin in our history. Our well-traveled Good quality circulated in American commerce 150 years ago.