3-Cent Nickel Pieces

The Nickel Three-Cent piece is another short run coin running from 1865 to 1889 with the years 1877, 1878, and 1886. It was minted as a proof only issue.

The nickel three-cent coin debuted in the final year of the Civil War. After 1875 when silver coins started circulating again, the three-cent denomination became redundant and mintages dropped. The mintages were in the millions from 1865 to 1870, still in the high hundreds of thousands through 1874. In 1875 they started to decline and in 1880 there were only 21 thousand minted. The lowest mintage of the three-cent piece was the 1885 with only 1,000 minted.

Among circulation strikes, clashed dies are common, particularly for the earlier high-mintage years. Generally, coins of the 1860’s and 70’s have weakness in one area or another while many if not most of the 1880’s are well struck.

3 cent nickel piece


There are only 2 years that have a variety, they would be the 1866 which has a double die obverse, and the 1873 which has a closed 3 and an open 3 variety, both are pictured below.

3 cent close up


3 cent closed and open

Brian Dresback,

Manager, Christopher’s Rare Coins