Three Cents, Nickel, Coin Type from United States - detailed information

Three Cents, Nickel, Coin Type from United States (issued 1865 - 1889)
Coin TypeThree Cents, Nickel

The United States three-cent coin (also called a trime) was a short-lived denomination of a United States dollar.

It was a tiny silver coin at first. Designed by James B. Longacre, the silver version was produced from 1851 to 1873 and was abolished by the Coinage Act of 1873.

A bronze replacement was briefly considered in 1863, but the silver version (and a three-cent paper note which had appeared during the Civil War) was finally replaced with a copper-nickel coin first issued in 1865; for several years, silver and copper-nickel were issued in parallel. The advocates for the new alloy were led by Pennsylvania industrialist Joseph Wharton, who then controlled the domestic supply of nickel ore. On the last legislative day of the congressional session, March 3, 1865, a bill for a three-cent piece in copper-nickel alloy was introduced in Congress, passed both houses without debate, and was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

The act that authorised the three-cent nickel contained a provision requiring the use of the motto In God We Trust on all pieces large enough to bear it, but the new coin was deemed too small.

The coins were only struck by the Philadelphia Mint, with no mint mark. Note that the composition is copper-nickel (75% copper, 25% nickel) but the coins is popularly known as a "nickel"; the name later transferred to the five-cent piece.

The three-cent nickel piece initially circulated well, but became less popular when the five-cent nickel was introduced in 1866 - a larger and more convenient coin, with its value of five cents better fitting the decimal system; additionally, the 3 cents were only legal tender for sums up to 60¢, while the five-cent piece could be redeemed to any amount by the government if presented in $100 lots pursuant to a provision in the authorising legislation. After 1870, most years saw low annual mintages for the three-cent nickel, and in 1890 Congress abolished it. The last were struck in 1889; many were melted down to coin more five-cent pieces.

The series is not widely collected, and the pieces remain inexpensive relative to other U.S. coins of similar scarcity.

Obverse
United States / Three Cents, Nickel - obverse photo

At the centre of the obverse, the coin features the portrait of Miss Liberty facing left. She wears a coronet, on which the inscription LIBERTY is incuse.

Around, within a toothed border, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; below, the date of issue: [year].

Obverse Inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA [year]
Reverse
United States / Three Cents, Nickel - reverse photo

At the centre of the obverse, surrounded by a laurel wreath tied by a ribbon below, a large Roman numeral III for the value of 3 cents.

The rim is denticled (toothed). There is no mint mark.

Reverse Inscription III
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone
Coin Type: Three Cents, Nickel - (25) Coins
Coin NameMintageSymbolLegend
Three Cents 1865, Nickel 11,382,500 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1865
Three Cents 1866, Nickel 4,801,725 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1866
Three Cents 1867, Nickel 3,915,625 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1867
Three Cents 1868, Nickel 3,252,600 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1868
Three Cents 1869, Nickel 1,604,600 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1869
Three Cents 1870, Nickel 1,336,000 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1870
Three Cents 1871, Nickel 604,960 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1871
Three Cents 1872, Nickel 862,950 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1872
Three Cents 1873, Nickel 1,174,100 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1873
Three Cents 1874 790,700 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1874
Three Cents 1875 228,700 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1875
Three Cents 1876 163,150 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1876
Three Cents 1877 (Proof only) 510 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1877
Three Cents 1878 (Proof only) 2,350 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1878
Three Cents 1879 41,200 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1879
Three Cents 1880 24,955 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1880
Three Cents 1881 1,080,575 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1881
Three Cents 1882 25,300 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1882
Three Cents 1883 10,609 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1883
Three Cents 1884 5,642 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1884
Three Cents 1885 4,790 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1885
Three Cents 1886 (Proof only) 4,290 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1886
Three Cents 1887 7,961 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1887
Three Cents 1888 41,083 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1888
Three Cents 1889 21,561 Liberty, Portrait UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1889
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Three Cents, Nickel: Details
CountryUnited States
CurrencyUS Dollar
Sub-type ofThree Cents
From1865
To1889
Face Value3 (x Cent)
CurrentNo; withdrawn 1890
MaterialCuproNickel
DesignerJames Barton Longacre
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
Size17.900 mm
Thickness1.150 mm
Mass1.940 g