#AceHistoryNews – March.21: The three-cent nickel was designed by the US Mint’s Chief Engraver James B. Longacre and struck by the mint from 1865 to 1889.
When precious metal coinage was hoarded during the economic turmoil of the American Civil War, including the silver three-cent piece, and even the copper- nickel cent was commanding a premium, Congress issued paper money in denominations as small as three cents, but these small slips of paper became ragged and dirty.
After the issue of a lighter bronze cent and a two-cent piece in 1864, there were proposals for a three-cent piece in copper-nickel. 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 by both houses without debate, and signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
Although initially popular, the three-cent nickel piece became less so with the introduction in 1866 of the five-cent nickel, a larger, more convenient coin, with a value better fitting the decimal system.
After 1870, most years saw low annual mintages for the three-cent nickel, and in 1890 Congress abolished it.