Collectors CornerSM: The Collectibles Marketplace

A Service of Certified Asset Exchange

Shopping Cart 0 item ($0.00)

The Novel Two-Cent and Three-Cent Coins

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez - July 17, 2023

The Two Cent Piece was struck from 1864 through 1873. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.
The Three Cent coin debuted in 1851, while its copper-nickel counterpart came along in 1865. The silver three-cent coin saw its demise in 1873, while the nickel three-cent coin carried on through 1889. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

Collectors who are looking for something different to collect might want to consider a niche of mid-19th-century United States coinage that many don’t even know about. Between the years 1851 and 1889, our nation struck two-cent pieces and three-cent coins – denominations that are now long-since obsolete. The three-cent coins, first issued as a silver piece and later a nickel-based strike, were produced to make purchasing first-class postage, then three cents per stamp, more convenient. Meanwhile, the two-cent coin arose in 1864 to help alleviate a shortage of small-denomination coins that arose during the Civil War.

The two- and three-cent coins made history each on their own merits. The Two Cent Piece became the first United States coin to carry the now-widely used motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.” As for the three-cent coinage, it was issued simultaneously as both a silver (1851-1873) and nickel-based (1865-1889) coin.

The two-cent and three-cent coins are readily available as type coins, with prices south of $50 to $100 for a single example of any of these coins, including either the silver or nickel three-cent coins. However, each series has its rarities, including the 1872 business-strike Two Cent Piece, issues from the last decade of Three Cent Silvers, and most of the 1880s Three Cent Nickels.

All of this suggests plenty of versatility for collectors. Whether they are looking for just one example each of the Two Cent Piece, Three Cent Nickel, and Three Cent Silver for a circulated type set, or have ambitions to build complete sets of any or all of these coins, the options for affordability or challenge abound. The PCGS Set Registry offers plenty of accommodations for collectors who are building type sets, aiming for complete runs covering all issues from any of the two- and three-cent series, or those pursuing other aims.

Article provided by PCGS at
Related sites
The Grading Standard of the Rare Coin Industry
All information about Every U.S. Coin --
Try it for FREE!
Metal Values for All Coins
The Largest Dealer-to-Dealer Numismatic Trading Network
Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp & Sports Collectible Expo