Two Cent and Three Cent Coins

Other than numismatists, most people do not realize that the United States minted coins with face values of two cents and three cents. The Two Cent coin was produced from 1864-1873.

There are two design types of the Three Cent coin: the Silver "Trime" of 1851-1873 and the Copper-Nickel composition, minted 1865-1889.

The Coinage Act of April 22, 1864, which created the small bronze cent, also brought about the Two Cent coin. The obverse depicted a Union Shield, a common image during the Civil War years.

The Two Cent coin never caught on with the public, and was discontinued in 1873.

The most significant aspect of this short-lived coin is that it was the first United States coin to bear the motto "In God We Trust". This was in response to the religious sentiment embracing the nation during those troubled times.



1864 Two Cent Large Motto Small Motto Comparison

Small Motto vs. Large Motto

Determining the difference between 1864 Two Cent Small Motto and Large Motto varieties is fairly easy.  On the obverse of the Small Motto (top image above), the D in GOD is wide, and there is a stem touching the ribbon. The D in the Large Motto (lower image) is taller and narrower, and there is no stem touching the ribbon.  The Small Motto variety is much scarcer than the Large Motto variety, and is considered a key date.

In 1851, the cost to mail a letter was three cents. Purchasing a postage stamp always required multiple coins or receiving change back. Mint officials sought to make it easier to purchase stamps and reduce the demand for coinage by releasing the Three Cent coin. Composed mostly of silver, it was a tiny coin, and earned the nickname "fish scale" because that's what it resembled in size and appearance. "Trime" was the name later applied to the coin, a word resulting from the combination of "tri" (for three) and "dime" (another small silver coin).

Concerns over the smallish nature of the trime led to the larger copper-nickel Three Cent coin in 1865. It lasted until 1889, but never achieved the popularity that was expected of it.




Two Cent Coin
Coin Photos courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc., Beverly Hills, CA


Three Cent Silver Coin
Coin Photos courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc., Beverly Hills, CA


Three Cent Nickel Coin
Coin Photos courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc., Beverly Hills, CA

Because these oddball denominations were never in widespread demand by the American consumer, microscopic mintages were produced for many dates, and all of them have exceptionally high value.  Rather than list each key date individually, we'll indicate a date range, where applicable:



Key date Two Cent and Three Cent cent coins are offered for sale below. The left hand side of each "Sales Box" is value trend data over a very long period of time for a coin of that date in Fine-12 or Proof-65 condition. The percent annual increase is computed for comparative purposes. For date ranges, a representative sample date was selected to typify value trends of the group. The coin pictured for sale in the right hand side, if any, is not necessarily the same condition coin or the same date as that represented in the value trend analysis on left hand side.



1864 SM
Two Cent
Condition: F-12


1872
Two Cent
Condition: F-12

% Annual Increase Since 1950  =

4.78%
% Annual Increase Since 1950  =

7.23%


1873 open 3
Two Cent
Condition: PF-65R


1855
Three Cent Silver
Condition: F-12

% Annual Increase Since 1950  =

8.06%
% Annual Increase Since 1950  =

4.47%


1863-1873
Three Cent Silver
Condition: PF-65


1877
Three Cent Nick
Condition: PF-65

% Annual Increase Since 1950  =

6.90%
% Annual Increase Since 1950  =

6.21%


1878
Three Cent Nick
Condition: PF-65


1883-1887
Three Cent Nick
Condition: F-12

% Annual Increase Since 1950  =

5.85%
% Annual Increase Since 1950  =

9.91%


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