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Three Cent Nickel History

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The Three Cent Nickel was a replacement of Two-Cent Bronze Piece. It was more convenient and it was worth more because of its super low mintages. As you can probably imagine it face value was worth three cents, however almost all of the Three Cent Nickels are worth more than three cents today.

The Three Cent Nickel was minted from 1865 to 1889 and was minted only in Philadelphia. Eventually the Three Cent Nick was replaced, ironically by something more convenient and worth more, five cent nickels. 

The Three Cent Nickel’s designer was James B. Longacre, its design consisted of the head of a left facing image of Liberty. Around Liberty’s head lied “United States of America”, underneath was the year it was minted. The reverse of the Three Cent Nickel was the roman numeral III surrounded by a laurel wreath.

Each Three Cent Nickel had a denomination of three cents, was 75% copper and 25% nickel, had a diameter of 17.9mm, and featured a plain edge. The Three Cent Nickel was produced in two different finishes, a mint state and a proof. Some of the key dates for collectors of the Three Cent Nickel are the following:

-1883 Three Cent Nickel

-1884 Three Cent Nickel

-1885 Three Cent Nickel

-1887 Three Cent Nickel

-1865 Proof Three Cent Nickel

Three Cent Nickel Mintages and Value

Date Mintage Good Very Fine Extremely Fine Uncirculated
1865 3-Cent Nickel 11,382,000 $18.00 $30.00 $40.00 $100.00
1866 3-Cent Nickel 4,801,000 $18.00 $28.00 $40.00 $100.00
1867 3-Cent Nickel 3,915,000 $15.00 $30.00 $40.00 $100.00
1868 3-Cent Nickel 3,252,000 $15.00 $30.00 $40.00 $100.00
1869 3-Cent Nickel 1,604,000 $15.00 $30.00 $40.00 $125.00
1870 3-Cent Nickel 1,335,000 $20.00 $30.00 $40.00 $140.00
1871 3-Cent Nickel 604,000 $20.00 $30.00 $40.00 $140.00
1872 3-Cent Nickel 862,000 $20.00 $30.00 $40.00 $150.00
1873 3-Cent Nickel (Closed 3) 390,000 $20.00 $30.00 $40.00 $150.00
1873 3-Cent Nickel (Open 3) 783,000 $20.00 $30.00 $40.00 $160.00
1874 3-Cent Nickel 190,000 $20.00 $30.00 $40.00 $150.00
1875 3-Cent Nickel 228,000 $20.00 $35.00 $45.00 $175.00
1876 3-Cent Nickel 162,000 $20.00 $35.00 $65.00 $200.00
1879 3-Cent Nickel 38,000 $60.00 $100.00 $125.00 $300.00
1880 3-Cent Nickel 21,000 $700.00 $150.00 $200.00 $350.00
1881 3-Cent Nickel 1,077,000 $20.00 $30.00 $40.00 $125.00
1882 3-Cent Nickel 22,200 $125.00 $200.00 $225.00 $450.00
1883 3-Cent Nickel 4,000 $275.00 $500.00 $550.00 $1,500.00
1884 3-Cent Nickel 1,700 $550.00 $1,450.00 $2,000.00 $3,500.00
1885 3-Cent Nickel 1,000 $875.00 $1,750.00 $2,500.00 $4,500.00
1887 3-Cent Nickel 5,001 $275.00 $450.00 $525.00 $700.00
1888 3-Cent Nickel 36,501 $50.00 $75.00 $90.00 $300.00
1889 3-Cent Nickel 18,125 $80.00 $165.00 $235.00 $350.00

 *Source 2020 Red Book