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You've read in your 19th century novels of "silver," as in "one silver." Do any of these coins still exist or is that literary hyperbole?
Credit the masters a fishscale of sense. Fishscale or three cents silver is an actual old silver coin and US silver coin issued between 1851 and 1873.
Star three cent silvers often survive in MS-67 grade. An 1852 regular strike inverted date silver coin with an upside-down date is worth $650 in Almost Uncirculated condition. A three cents silver coin proof 1863/2 in MS-67 is worth $10,000. Rarer dates are from 1863 to 1873. A star on the obverse and the roman numeral III on the reverse will tell you you're holding a piece of history. They're small and about the size of a salmon scale.
It makes you want to go back and reread Nathaniel Hawthorne and Harriet Beecher Stowe.