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Cameo Choice Proof 1867 Rays Nickel
A Legendary Rarity

1867 5C Rays PR64 Cameo PCGS. A well struck and untoned Choice example of this famous numismatic rarity. Cameo contrast is modest but unmistakable, and both sides are free from carbon or abrasions. The reverse has a few tiny mint-made lintmarks, and a minor strike-through of mint origin precedes the second T in TRUST.
The story of the proof Rays 1867 nickel begins with the Civil War. The North expected a quick victory, and when this did not occur, unbacked paper money was issued by the Federal government to finance the war. This action drove silver coins from circulation, including the half dime. In response, base metal denominations were introduced in three successive years: the copper two cent piece in 1864, the copper-nickel three cent nickel in 1865, and the copper-nickel Shield nickel in 1866. All three denominations were struck in great quantity, and readily circulated.
Things went smoothly at the Philadelphia Mint for the two cent piece and three cent nickel, but the Shield nickel was comparatively troubled. The hard copper-nickel alloy caused dies to shatter prematurely. In 1867, the second year of the type, the rays between the stars were removed in an attempt to increase die life. 1867 business strikes of the Rays subtype are plentiful, as more than 2 million were released. But no proof 1867 Rays nickels were supposed to be struck. Breen (1988) states "Chief Coiner A. Loudon Snowden in Jan. 1867 refused to make any proofs of this type for sets (R.W. Julian, personal communication.) Official complaints reached Treasury Secretary McCulloch, who on Jan. 21, 1867, ordered that subsequent nickels omit the rays. Proofs with rays, evidently clandestine, have become major rarities."
The actual mintage of the proof 1867 Rays nickel is unknown. The Guide Book reports a proof production of 25+ pieces. More than this number have been certified, but resubmissions over the past 20 years have inflated population data. What is known is that any proof 1867 Rays Shield nickel is highly coveted, and is considered essential for the completion of a proof set.
Population: 4 in 64 Cameo, 7 finer (10/07).(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# 276H, PCGS# 83818)

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Auction Dates
January, 2008
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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