CAC Mintage: 36,500. Extremely scarce in all grades, R4.8, rare in MS60&+, R5.5.
Ron Guth: The 1888 Three-Cent Nickel boasts the last of the "big" mintages from the 1880's, but at 36,501 pieces, the mintage is still tiny by any standard. This date compares favorably with the 1879, which has just a slightly higher mintage; both dates are priced nearly the same in all grades.
Numerous Gem examples exist of this date, with dozens available in MS65, MS66, and MS67. In MS68, the population drops down to a mere one -- a lovely PCGS MS68 (which ranks as the finest known of this date).
In general, this date comes well struck, and almost always shows all of the vertical lines in the Roman numeral III on the reverse. Picky collectors should select pieces with booming luster and as few carbon flecks as possible.