1866, United States. Beautiful Copper-Nickel 3 Cents (Trime) Coin.
Mint Year: 1866 Reference: KM-95. Designer: James B. Longacre Denomination: Nickel 3 Cents (Trime) Material: Copper-Nickel Diameter: 18mm Weight: 2.21gm
Obverse: Coronet head of lady Liberty left. Legend: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / 1866 Reverse: Roman numeral (III) within wreath.
The copper-nickel three-cent piece, often called a three-cent nickel piece or three-cent nickel, was designed by US Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre and struck by the United States Bureau of the Mint from 1865 to 1889. It was initially popular, but its place in commerce was supplanted by the five-cent piece, or nickel.
With precious metal federal coinage hoarded during the economic turmoil of the American Civil War, including the silver three-cent piece, and even the copper-nickel cent commanding a premium, Congress issued paper money in denominations as small as three cents to replace the hoarded coins in commerce. These small slips of paper became ragged and dirty, and the public came to hate “shinplasters”. After the issue of a lighter bronze cent, and also a two-cent piece, in 1864, both of which circulated freely, there were proposals for a three-cent piece in copper-nickel to replace the three-cent note. The advocates were led by Pennsylvania industrialist Joseph Wharton, who then controlled the domestic supply of nickel ore. On the last day of the congressional session, March 3, 1865, a bill for a three-cent piece in copper-nickel alloy was introduced in Congress, passed both houses without debate, and was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
Although initially popular, the three-cent nickel piece became less so when the five-cent nickel was introduced in 1866, a larger, more convenient coin, with a value of five cents better fitting the decimal system. After 1870, most years saw low annual mintages for the three-cent nickel, and in 1890 Congress abolished it. The last were struck in 1889; many were melted down to coin more five-cent pieces. The issue is not widely collected, and prices for rare dates remain low by the standards of American collectible coinage.