There are plenty of iconic, collectible US coins that have been minted throughout history, but few are more unique than the three-cent nickel. While most people have probably heard of the nickel—a five-cent coin—the three-cent variety is a bit more unique as it was only produced for a short period of time back in the latter stages of the 19th century.
The obverse side of the three-cent nickel is dominated by the image of Lady Liberty, who is depicted facing leftward. Mostly surrounding the image of Lady Liberty is a raised inscription which reads “United States of America.” Underneath the image of Lady Liberty is a raised inscription marking the 1869 year of minting. On both the obverse and reverse sides of the coin, the outer edges are reeded.
The reverse side of the coin is dominated in the center by the raised inscription of the three-cent face value. The face value is indicated by a Roman Numeral. Surrounding the face value is a wreath, depicted in incredible detail.
When it comes to collectors who deal with coins this old, the only acceptable pieces are those that have been graded by a professional grading service. Below, we will outline the different coin grades as well as what they mean in terms of the 1869 three-cent nickel’s appearance.
Uncirculated: An 1869 three-cent nickel that has been graded as being Uncirculated is one that, quite literally, never made it out into circulation. From the day they were minted until today, these coins were kept in safekeeping, and because of this their condition has been perfectly preserved.
Extremely Fine: If a coin is worthy of the Extremely Fine grade, this means that it has one or two minor flaws. These pieces were likely never circulated, but through the years have been subject to some damage. Though the damage will be hardly noticeable, it is still there.
Fine: An 1869 three-cent nickel that is determined to be of Fine grade is one that spent some time exchanging hands, but has mostly survived the years without too many signs of wear and tear. Though you will assuredly notice some scratching on the surface of the coin, it will not be so significant that the raised lettering and imagery will still be visible.
Good: Good is the grade given to coins that have been extremely heavily worn. These coins, due to the exchanging of hands over the years, will feature deep scratching and heavy smoothing. In fact, the smoothing might be so severe that some of the raised aspects of the coin will have been completely worn down.
In order to determine a price for the 1869 three-cent nickel, you must first look at its condition. In fact, the condition is one of the only determinants of the value of a three-cent nickel. If the coin is well-preserved, it will be more expensive than a coin that has been, by comparison, heavily worn. Below is a chart that will help you understand what you might be charged for an 1869 three-cent nickel given its condition.
1869 Three-Cent Nickel
|1869||$15||N/A||$40||$65||Source: Red Book|