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Three Cent Nickels (1865-1889)

The disappearance from circulation of silver three-cent pieces during the Civil War resulted in the issuance of fractional paper currency replacements. At the urging of nickel producer Joseph Wharton, a copper-nickel coin of slightly larger size was introduced in 1865 to retire the unpopular notes. Under the circumstances, this coin was initially quite successful, but the large number of minor coins minted 1864-69 created redundancies that saw a drop-off in production from 1870 onward. With just occasional spikes in output, the copper-nickel three-cent had already outlived its usefulness, and this denomination was quietly retired in 1889.

The popularity of this series with date collectors is hampered a bit by the proof-only issues of 1877-78 and 1886, though none of these coins are truly rare. The most visible varieties are the Closed 3 and Open 3 coins of 1873 and the 1887/6 overdate, but quite a number of lesser varieties attract specialists. Perhaps the most appealing of these the 1869/1869, with its completely doubled date. NGC will attribute most varieties listed in The Cherrypickers’ Guide and selected varieties from the Flynn/Fletcher book.



Denom.MS/PFDateFee*NGC LabelVarietyPlusFivaz-Stanton (OLD)Flynn-Fletcher
3CNMS1865 DDO$15FS-101 VP-002FS-003.5FF-DDO-001
3CNMS1865 DDO$15FS-102   FF-DDO-002
3CNMS1865/5 MPD$15FS-301  FS-001FF- MPD-001
3CNMS1865/1865 $15FS-302  FS-001.5FF- RPD-002
3CNMS1865/1865 $15FS-304 VP-001FS-002.5 & FS-003FF- RPD-003
3CNMS1865/65 $15FS-305   FF- RPD-006
3CNMS1866 DDO$15FS-101 VP-001FS-004FF-DDO-001
3CNMS1866/866 $15FS-301   FF- RPD-004
3CNMS1869 18/18 $15FS-301 VP-002FS-004.3FF- RPD-002
3CNMS1869/1869 $15FS-302 VP-001FS-004.5FF- RPD-001
3CNMS1869 DDR$15FS-801  FS-004.7FF-DDR-001
3CNMS1870/1870 DDO$15FS-101 VP-001FS-005FF-DDO-001 & FF-RPD-001
3CNMS1870 MPD$15FS-301  FS-005.5FF-MPD-001
3CNMS1870 MPD & DDR$15FS-302   FF- MPD-002
3CNMS1871 TDO$15FS-101 VP-001FS-006FF-DDO-001
3CNMS1873 CLOSED 3-    
3CNMS1873 18/18 CLOSED 3$15FS-301   FF- RPD-001
3CNMS1873 OPEN 3-    
3CNMS1875 MPD$15FS-301   MPD-001
3CNMS1881/81 $15FS-301  FS-006.8RPD-005
3CNMS1881 88/88 $15VP-001   RPD-003
3CNMS1881 88/88 $15VP-002   RPD-001
3CNPF1875 MPD$15FS-301   MPD-001
3CNPF1881/881 $15VP-003   Unlisted
3CNPF1881/881 $15VP-004   Unlisted
3CNPF1881 88/88 $15VP-005   RPD-006
3CNPF1887/6 -   FF-OVD-001 & FF-MPD-001
3CNPF1889 1/1/1 $15VP-001   FF-RPD-001


* In order to have the above varieties requiring the $15 fee designated by NGC, VarietyPlus service must be requested at time of grading. VarietyPlus service is also available for coins already encapsulated by NGC. For coins where the fee column is blank, no VarietyPlus charge is required to have your coin designated during grading. For coins marked $15, a $15 surcharge applies to the tier fee during grading, or a $15 fee applies to have the VarietyPlus designation added to any coin already graded and encapsulated by NGC.
References:
Fivaz, Bill & J.T. Stanton. The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties, 5th Edition, Volume 1. Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2009
Flynn, Kevin. Flying Eagle, Indian Cent, Two, Cent, Three Cent Doubled Dies. Stanton Publishing, Savannah, GA, 1999
Flynn, Kevin & Edward Fletcher. The Authoritative Reference on Three Cent Nickels. Stanton Publishing, Savannah, GA, 1999