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U.S. Three-Cent Nickels (1865-1889)

Learn More About U.S. Three-Cent Nickels (1865-1889)


The three-cent nickel was minted from 1865 to 1889, during the same time the three-cent silver piece was produced. Both coins were designed by the U.S. Mint’s chief engraver, John Longacre. The obverse side features the head of Lady Liberty wearing a crown and facing left with the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounding her and the date below. The reverse side includes the denomination expressed as the Roman numeral III inside of a wreath. The three-cent nickel was composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel yet looks silver in appearance. Millions of these odd denomination coins were produced to buy three-cent postage stamps and make change during the post-Civil War era. The three-cent nickel raised controversy due to its size which was very similar to that of a dime. It was discontinued in 1889 when the cost of postage dropped from three cents to two cents, creating less demand for a three-cent piece. 

What is the value of a U.S. three-cent nickel today? Contact our expert numismatists at 1-800-965-2646.