Two and Three Cent Coins:
The American Civil War caused a severe shortage of all coins in circulation. The Confederate States of America issued a lot of paper money that was not backed by gold or silver in the CSA’s treasury. The federal government also felt the pressure of people hoarding every coin they could find. So, the Union government began printing paper currency in 1861 to help pay for the war effort. It wasn’t just gold and silver coins that were being hoarded. Copper coins were also being taken out of circulation. Inflation drove prices higher for food, clothing and all the necessities so the Mint responded by creating Two Cent Pieces and two types of Three Cent coins.
Two cent pieces were larger than cents and had twice the amount of copper in them. These coins were issued from 1864 until 1873. As a show of national unity in a divided country, these two cent coins were the very first coins to carry the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” on them. While a few varieties are scarcer, assembling a complete collection of these coins is affordable.
There were two types of three cent pieces – Silver Three Cent Pieces and Nickel Three Cent Pieces. The Silver Three Cent coins were struck beginning in 1851, but extremely low mintages of these coins occurred during the years comprising the Civil War and until they were discontinued in 1873. Because these coins were made of silver, they were hoarded, even though they are the smallest silver coin ever struck by the US government.
To combat the hoarding of silver coins, the government struck a Three Cent coin that was made of nickel and copper beginning in 1865, the last year of the War. These coins were struck in larger quantities during the first years of their existence to offset the shortage of change after the War. They were struck until 1889 but the mintage numbers were small. Sets of both types of Three Cent coins provide a challenge for collectors but are possible to complete.