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Coinyoshi's Blog

01 Mar 2023

odd denominations

Young Numismatists Exchange | Coinyoshi

I have been very, very busy recently. I have been playing club soccer, doing mock trial and Model UN, and trying out for the school baseball team. Then, all of that ended, and I was bored. So I decided to do an independent research project through the school. The topic I chose for my research was coins. I was working on my project earlier this week, and I found a 3-cent nickel in my collection that I won from a grab bag in the YN auction last year. I brought it to my next research meeting, and my mentor had all kinds of odd denominations. He had a ton of ½¢ pieces, a couple of 2¢ pieces, and a 3¢ coin. I found them interesting, so I decided to write a blog on odd denominations.


Many strange denominations have been in circulation in the US. The ½¢, 2¢, 3¢, 20¢, $2.50, $3, $4, $5, $10, and $20 coins have all been minted during our country's history. Today I will discuss information about and collectability of the ½¢, 2¢, 3¢, 20¢, and $2.50 coins. I will probably do a part 2 talking about the higher denomination pieces officially minted by the federal mint later.


The ½ cent coins were minted with various designs from 1793-1857. They looked similar to the designs on the large cents, just with the words half cent on the reverse instead of one cent. (exception of the Coronet Head cent) (see image at bottom for all designs of half cent). During our early history, skilled laborers in the USA made about $1 a day for 10 hours of work. Small American copper coins were the most common coins for people with lower-level and middle-class jobs, so the half-cent was an important aspect of commerce. Collecting half-cent types is possible (you can get one of every type in a lower grade condition for about $150 if you exclude the Liberty Cap half-cent), but it would be difficult to collect a series because they were minted from 1793-1857.


The two-cent coin was minted by the US from 1864-1873. It was designed by James Longacre, the chief engraver of the US mint. The mint used these as test coins to figure out if a 2¢ piece would work. An interesting thing about the minting pattern is that the number of coins minted decreased every year due to the Civil War, unpopularity with the US public, and the difficulty of actually striking the coins. As for collecting them, they are accessible (around $15-$50 for one in a lower grade). For people that collect the series, it is a very short series of coins, but it is difficult to collect: some key date coins go for thousands of dollars.


There were two different types of 3¢ coins minted in the US. One was made out of nickel and the other was made out of silver. They were minted between 1851-1889. The silver 3¢ coin, or trime, was minted from 1851-1873 while the nickel 3¢ coin was minted from 1865-1889. The trime was the smallest silver coin ever minted in the United States. Because of that, people hoarded them for the silver value and they eventually replaced the silver with nickel. Getting hold of one trime and one nickel 3¢ piece in decent condition is relatively easy if you are willing to spend the money on a nice coin: in EF-40 condition, a non-key date trime is $80-90 and a non-key date nickel 3¢ is $35-45. (note: picture of 3¢ coin in post is of 3¢ nickel).


Thanks for reading and see you in the next one!


Sources:

Prices and some information came from the 2018 red book

Most of the other information came from PCGS coinfacts and Numista


Comments

Coindragon53

Level 3

Hi cool blog

I. R. Bama

Level 5

I enjoy them too. I have completed my two cent collection, boy that last one took me three years to find. I'm half way through the 3 cent collection, picked off all the low hanging fruit, and now I have to get the pricier ones. I've got several 20 cent coins, even a CC. I can see being able to complete that set as well.

Kevin Leab

Level 4

Very nicely done! I have a few nearly completed sets of odd denomination coins, My 2 Cent and Three Cent nickel sets only need a few. I enjoy them more than most other denominations.

I find there denominations interesting, I have the 1/2 cent, the 2 cent and the nickel 3 cent piece, the three cent piece was made because that was the price of a postage stamp in the 1850s.

Mike

Level 7

I have to say well done. I do not collect odd coins . I have them yes but a few of each. They are interesting. My favorite is the first cent. The Fugio. Designed by Benjamin Franklin and made at the Scovill mint. Its not in the best condition many were stored in barrels under leaky pipes. That's ok with me. Very good blog. I also picked up something today. . Thats why we read these . Knowledge

Longstrider

Level 6

Very professionally dome blog. I am a fan of our odd denominations. I especially enjoyed that you included your sources. I learned from you today. I'm looking forward to part two. Thanks.

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