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    1880 Shield Nickel, MS66
    Extremely Rare as a Business Strike
    Diagnostically Correct in All Respects

    1880 5C MS66 PCGS Secure. The value and general unavailability of the 1880 Shield nickel will surprise many collectors who do not specialize in this series. The 1880 is well known as a low-mintage rarity with only 16,000 business strikes produced. However, what confuses almost everyone, including the grading services, are the differences between business strikes and proofs. Two sets of dies were used to strike proofs, and some business strikes and proofs were struck from each die pair. So, how does one tell if the coin in question is a genuine business strike or just a dull proof?

    The Bowers reference on the Shield and Liberty nickel series has an extensive quote from a die study done by John Dannreuther, Douglas Kurz, Howard Spindel, and Q. David Bowers on this very question. The diagnostics this group agreed on were:

    The upper left outside of the first S in STATES is repunched.
    There is a tiny raised "island" in the field below the T of STATES.
    A tiny die line or thorn projects upward from a dentil below the space between T and S in CENTS.
    No mirroring on the edge.

    Perhaps the easiest to see of these diagnostics is the raised "island" of metal in the field below T. Bowers calls it tiny, but on this coin at least it is substantial, closer to the size of the head of a pin. Also, the edge is telling. This coin is encased in a newer holder that allows viewing of the edge, and it is abundantly clear that the edge is not polished.

    The surfaces of this piece should be convincing, but it is always good to match any 1880 business strike nickel against the known diagnostics. Each side is bright and softly frosted. No actual reflectivity is present in the fields, just brightness that one would expect from a coin struck from dies that struck proofs as well as business strikes. The strike details are strong throughout, but again not squared off as one would expect on a proof, but more beveled toward the field. There are no singularly distinctive abrasions that can be used as pedigree identifiers. PCGS shows another MS66 coin has been graded, but we have to wonder if that second coin might be a resubmission of this piece in hopes of attaining an even higher grade.(Registry values: N4719)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 276E, PCGS# 3810)

    Weight: 5.00 grams

    Metal: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 18
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,468

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