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1880 Shield Nickel, MS65
Unquestioned Business Strike Attributes

1880 5C MS65 PCGS. CAC. This rarity is an unquestioned business strike, as seen by the presence of an outline around the S in STATES, an "island" of metal below the second T in the same word, and a minute thornlike projection from the denticle below the T and S in CENTS. The generally accepted mintage for the 1880 business strike nickel is 16,000 pieces. There is some uncertainty about that number, however, as proofs were also struck from circulation dies. We hasten to add that none of the above-mentioned attributes have been found on proofs.
The fields on this piece show slight reflectivity with mint frost intermixed, as one would expect from a short production run of business strikes; This is also seen on C- and D-mint gold, business strike 1882 and 1885 twenties, and low-mintage gold from the 1860s and 1870s. It is interesting to speculate on the actual rarity of 1880 business strikes. In Bowers' book on the series, he states: "Caveat emptor -- take the opinion of the grading services on an encapsulated coin with some hefty skepticism, since it is quite probable that there are 1880s that are misattributed (both ways)." Business strikes may be even rarer than population data indicates, since the study of unquestioned business strike 1880 nickels has just recently been conducted and published. One more indication of the business strike status of this coin is the incomplete venation on the leaves. Normally, one would look for a fully struck coin, but in this case softness over the high points of the leaf veins is further reassurance.
Each side has subtle mixture of gray-lilac and rose patina. The only strike "defect" worthy of mention is a small, shallow planchet flake in the field below the second S in STATES. An unquestioned business strike 1880 nickel is one of the great rarities in 19th century numismatics and a coin to be carefully considered by the astute collector. Population: 5 in 65, 1 finer (11/11).(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 276E, PCGS# 3810)

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Auction Dates
January, 2012
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
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