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Good supply for 1873 two-cent piece

The two-cent piece is an interesting denomination that does not seem to attract interest today. Obsolete denominations tend to have less demand and the two-cent piece has been out of prime production since 1872 when the last business strike was produced and out of production altogether since 1873.

For a coin with a mintage of just 1,100 proof-only pieces and fewer than that surviving today, the 1873 two-cent coin is available and not as expensive some may think.

For a coin with a mintage of just 1,100 proof-only pieces and fewer than that surviving today, the 1873 two-cent coin is available and not as expensive some may think.

The two-cent piece was popular for a very short period in 1864 and 1865. The reason was at the time any coins of any denominations would have been popular simply because there were no other coins as many were hoarded due to the Civil War.

Once other issues like copper-nickel three- and five-cent pieces as well as large numbers of cents reached circulation, the little demand for the two-cent piece disappeared. By 1869, the two-cent piece saw its last one million mintage and was discontinued a few years later.

You could suggest the fall of the two-cent piece was quick. It’s ironic as stretching back to the early 1800s there had been proposals for a two-cent piece. It came up a couple times as it seemed logical to have a two-cent piece. Given the acid test of being used by the public, the case was nowhere near as compelling.

A two-cent piece collection contains a few good dates including the small motto 1864, the 65,000 mintage 1872 and the proof-only 1873.

Of course, being proof-only the expectation is the 1873 two-cent piece is elusive and costly. The suggested mintage of 1,100 pieces about evenly divided between close and open “3” varieties would seem to support that idea but in reality the 1873 of either variety as a proof-only date is not as elusive and costly as might be expected.

The open and close “3” varieties are about equally available as the belief is there were 600 examples of the close “3” and 500 of the open “3.” That was common in 1873 as all issues seemed to have close and open “3” varieties as officials did not notice the appearance of the close “3” date. In the case of the 1873 two-cent piece, the close “3” was used for one type of proof set and the open for another. There were two types of sets with one called the nickel set having denominations up to a nickel while the other called a silver set contained all the silver denominations as well as the non-silver minors.

Whatever the case, the 1873 is not as expensive as might be expected. In Prf-65, it currently lists for around $4,000 although lesser grades are significantly less money, Moreover, there are fairly good supplies.

At the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, if you combine the two varieties, they have graded 393 examples of the 1873 although just 206 of the two varieties were Prf-65 or better. At the Professional Coin Grading Service, they have graded 724 examples of the two varieties combined and they show about 237 examples in Prf-65 or better. These numbers don’t account for doubled counting coins that were cracked out of slabs and later resubmitted.

Combining the two, you see the 1873 is available. If you want an 1873 to complete a two-cent piece collection it is not a problem to find.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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