Two Cent, Three Cent, & Twenty Cent Pieces

Provident Metals is proud to offer type coins to the numismatic enthusiast.

Provident Metals offers a wide variety of historical Two, Three, and Twenty-Cent Coins. These coins, commonly referred to as pieces, were struck by the United States Mint as early as 1851 until the last three-cent copper nickel piece was issued in 1889. These historic coins were minted from various combinations of silver and copper bullion, but all represent a unique part of American history. Because of the historic nature of these delightful coins, they are worth far more than their stated face values, some significantly more than their weight in bullion. Many are available in good to very good condition, and they are both fun to collect as well as a sound investment in bullion. Please review the individual product description for dates of issue, condition, and quantities. Invest in a keepsake of American history that is sure to become a family heirloom!

The Two-Cent Piece was authorized by the United States Congress by the Coinage Act of 1864 when the first two-cent coins were minted. Minting continued until 1873 in ever decreasing mintages during that time span. They were struck in both proof and regular issues, with the proof issues normally a smaller size. Because these proof issues were always considered collector items, more of the proof issues of a high grade have survived. Several die varieties exist, most significantly the Small and Large Motto varieties, with the small motto being rarer and more valuable. Designed by Chief Engraver James B. Longacre, the Two-Cent Piece was the first United States coin to bear the motto IN GOD WE TRUST which appears on a ribbon above a striped shield. Behind the shield on the obverse (or front), two arrows pointing upward form an X with what is presumed to be an olive branch surrounding both sides of the shield. The reverse of the two-cent piece is decorated with a wreath made of several plant varieties encircling the words 2 CENTS. These coins were struck in a combination of 95% pure copper with tin and zinc making up the remainder and weigh 6.22 grams. The Two-Cent Piece is just slightly smaller than a modern U.S. quarter. Interestingly, all two-cent pieces were minted at the Philadelphia Mint and bear no mint mark as a result.

From 1851 to 1889 the U.S. Mint produced two different Three Cent Pieces, the Three-Cent Silver and the Three-Cent Nickel. The three-cent coin has an interesting history, being produced to fill a unique need. Postal rates had decreased to only three cents by 1851, and the need for a small denomination coin had been expressed by the general public. The Three-Cent Silver Piece features a shield on a six-sided star on the front with the Roman numeral III on the reverse side. It was initially composed of 75% silver and 25% copper in order to ensure that the coin would be considered real currency but not valuable enough to be melted for its silver content. Smaller than a modern dime, the three-cent silver piece holds the distinction of being the smallest coin ever minted by the United States and weigh only ⅘ of a gram. In fact, they are sometimes referred to as “trimes.” Beginning in 1854, the three cent silver’s content was raised to 90% silver to encourage increased circulation.

In 1865, however, the Three Cent Nickel was introduced to fill the need for a small denomination in an alternative metal to discourage the widespread hoarding of silver that had broken out during the Civil War. The Three-Cent Nickel piece was therefore composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel and was larger than the Three-Cent Silver coin, weighing 1.94 grams. In addition to changing the metal alloy content, a design change was introduced. The Three-Cent Nickel features a Greek-inspired Liberty head design on the obverse and the Roman numeral III on the reverse side. Production of the Three-Cent Nickel continued until 1889, a full 16 years after the three cent silver had been discontinued.

The Twenty Cent Piece enjoys the distinction of having one of the shortest United States mintages and lowest circulations in coin history, making it a valuable coin to collectors. Its mintage for general circulation began in 1875 and ended in 1878, but was only released for circulation in 1876 and 1876. The Twenty-Cent Piece is composed of 90% silver and 10% copper and weighs five grams. Only a few hundred proofs were released during 1877 and 1878. Most experts agree that its discontinuation resulted from bearing a size too easily confused with a quarter. Only 1,355,000 were produced all together, and over 1.1 million of those were the 1875 issues. The coin was created as a strategy to increase U.S. silver exports following the discovery of silver in the great Com Stocke Load strike. There were several designs issued including the noteworthy Liberty at the Seashore pattern in 1875. The sails of the ship on this design flow toward the right, while the smoke coming from the ship’s stack billows toward the left. It appears, therefore, that the wind is blowing in two different directions. Numismatic experts consider this to be a design error. The final design features the famous Seated LIberty sculpted by Christain Gobrecht in 1838 that was also featured on the quarter, half dollar, and dollar of the day. The reverse features a famous rendering by William Barber of a standing eagle with its wings outspread, clutching both arrows and an olive branch.

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