thatcoinguy's Blog

06 Aug 2022

Two And Three Cent Pieces: Building A 19th And 20th Century Type Set

Coins-United States | thatcoinguy

We're back with building your type set. I don't really know if anyone is enjoying these, but I haven't gotten any comments saying otherwise, so I'm going to keep writing them. Two cent pieces, and three cent pieces, or "trimes" are next up in the album, and are both obsolete denominations (and designs, I guess...). Let's learn some more!

The two cent piece was designed by James B. Longacre, and was minted from 1864-1872. The idea for a two cent piece had already been through (and rejected by) Congress before it went for a third time (third time's a charm!) and became a reality. It is the first coin to feature our nation's coin motto, "In God We Trust". After a short lived popularity, it ended up falling out of favor with the public due to a lack of need after the Civil War ended. In the year 1864, there were two varieties, a large letter, and a small letter variety (pertaining to the motto "In God We Trust"). There are many overdates for this short lived series, and this is probably due to the fact that the date digits for the dies were struck by hand. For a nice example of this type, I would look for a MS-63 BN 1865 coin for $280. There are multiple dates for the same price, but I figured it would be better to have an example that was not the common date 1864 Large Letters. If you desire a red specimen, look for the 1965 again, at $300 in MS-62 RD. For the budget minded collector, I would suggest an AU-58 BN, which you could find for only the low sum of $135.

Silver three cent pieces were originally made in 1851, and produced until 1873. They came about because the postal rate was changed from five cents, to three. This coin was the first ever US coin to not picture Ms. Liberty in one form or another. The silver content of these coins was raised to 90% (from 75%) in 1854. These can get pricey, so finding one at the right price is imperative. I would suggest the first year of issue, 1851, in AU-58 for $280. Nickel three cent pieces, on the other hand, were created after the silver specimens (1865-1889). The composition was changed to prevent the hoarding of silver coinage, which was a problem during this time period. The predominant metal is actually copper, with the ratio being 75% copper, and 25% nickel. There are multiple years where not many coins were struck, pertaining to circulation strike issues (ex. 1885). Three cent nickels often exhibit die clashes, which may be something to look for if you like that, or something to discriminate against if you prefer a textbook specimen. Either way, there are multiple years in MS-63 that would be a good choice, but I have found that 1869 coins in particular have very nice luster, so that is something to keep in mind when making your purchase.

Keep collecting,



Long Beard

Level 5

I enjoy collecting both of these. With the Three cent, grading these is pretty tough in the raw form. Especially EF from AU and AU from MS. My favorite of them being the 1951 o, a one year only from that mint in series.


Level 6

Nice coins! Someday I will get one for my set. Thanks for the good blog! ; )


Level 5

I've always wanted one of these. Good blog!

AC coin$

Level 6

Best of luck on preparing you coin set. That couple of pics look quite nice and they seem to be well preserved. Thanks for your blog.

Kevin Leab

Level 4

I'm not much of a type set collector but I collect type coins as a set or series. ...I love the Two Cent/Three Cent nickel coins.


Level 6

Interesting coins to collect.


Level 6

My wife and I are having a blast working on our type set. The Only difference being it is a Mexican coin set. We are down to some more expensive cons so it is slowing down a bit. When finished we have a Dansco 7070 type set waiting in the wings. A lot of history to have in these collections. I love the odd denominations as well.


Level 4

The obsolete denominations always get me. The other interesting fact surrounding denominations like this, is there short “life span,” or short amount of time in production/usage. That fact alone makes these coins just that much more interesting, collectible, and valuable.


Level 7

A great coin! I was lucky to get one. Thanks for the great info. I am enjoying these. Good luck with the set!

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