Obverse and reverse of 1865 nickel three-cent piece
Hoard of Three-Cent Pieces
LCC buyers Ken and Jim with nickel three-cent piece hoard
Over the more than 40 years I've been in the coin field, I've never seen as many U.S. type coins as we have recently added to our inventory! Seen here are Littleton experts Ken Westover and Jim Reardon with a portion of more than 8,000 nickel three-cent pieces they were fortunate to add to our inventory recently. This is all thanks to our largest ever purchase of old, obsolete U.S. type coins. This acquisition will make for many exciting offers, over the next few years, to Littleton customers looking for the old, obsolete 19th-century coin series, such as these nickel three-cent coins.
The three-cent denomination first entered U.S. coinage in the form of a small silver piece, nicknamed the "trime." Though minted in modest quantities until 1873, the silver coin was essentially replaced in 1865 with a nickel three-cent coin, after many years of lobbying by Joseph Wharton who owned large nickel mines and was looking for a customer. The 1865 issue of 11,382,000 nickel three-cent pieces was welcome, as during the Civil War there was a real coin shortage in commerce. Nickel three-cent pieces were issued in reasonably large quantities through the nation's centennial year of 1876. After that year, with the exception of 1881, the mintages for circulation were tiny through the final year of 1889.
Nickel three-cent pieces actually drove the bronze two-cent piece of 1864-1873 out of favor. However, the same thing happened to the three-cent piece when the five-cent Shield nickel was issued, and when one-cent and five-cent coins became the popular choice for small transactions. Remember that you could buy many newspapers for just one cent a copy in those days!
Our hoard consists chiefly of 1865-1876 nickel three-cent pieces as well as 1881 issues – all highly collectable. And though it sounds like a lot of coins, they won't last long. If you hanker to build a collection of nickel three-cent coins by date, you're in luck, as Littleton does offer an album for these coins (item # LCA40 @ $22.95). This album also includes spaces to collect the obsolete bronze two-cent pieces, silver three-cent pieces and silver twenty-cent pieces. It would be a challenging album to complete!
Close-up of nickel three-cent pieces sorted by date