Coin Specifications

Category: Shield Five Cents (1866-1883)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 14,742,500
Catalog: KM-96
Obverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Reverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Composition: Copper-Nickel
Weight: 5.00 Grams
Diameter: 20.5mm
Edge: Plain
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1866 RAYS 5C MS obverse 1866 RAYS 5C MS reverse


  
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Description & Analysis

This coin denomination was authorized as a replacement for the unpopular fractional currency notes of 5 cent value which had themselves filled the void left by the silver half dime. Silver coins did not circulate in most of the nation from mid-1862 until 1875.

More than 14 million nickels were coined during the second half of 1866, as the Mint struggled to meet the urgent demand for a five-cent coin. The work that went into these pieces was hurried and a bit careless, and this situation was further aggravated by the hardness of the copper-nickel alloy and the excessive thickness of this coin as authorized. It should have been less than 5 grams, but nickel tycoon Joseph Wharton persuaded Congress to use as much of his metal as he could.

The end result was that most pieces are less than fully struck and display many die cracks, cud rim breaks and other technical flaws. Gems are available only due to the usual widespread saving of new coin types by the public for their novelty. Even those having high grades will usually exhibit some signs of die duress.

Shield Nickels, particularly the high-mintage dates such as 1866, are notorious for their numerous doubled-die and repunched date varieties. This has made them a collector's delight, and NGC recognizes the better ones under its VarietyPlus Service.

This date is valued more highly than its rarity would suggest, due to the fact that the rays feature on its reverse was removed early the following year. Type collectors seeking a With Rays nickel thus focus primarily on the 1866 issue.

GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 6/11/2013

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1866 RAYS 5C MS
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 28.75 39.10 57.60 84.00 150 150 228 240 264 282 300 330 360 481 770 2020 4750 27950 - - -
$ 168 250 260 290 310 330 360 400 530 850 2220 5100 30200 -
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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 1596
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 62
High Grade: 66


Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
4/22/2014 AU 55   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(2), 131416/Lot# 20470


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
2/7/2001 NGC MS 63   Teletrade Auction 1404, 1404/Lot# 1166 $348.80
5/31/2004 PCGS MS 65   Goldberg May 31 - June 2, 2004 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 25/Lot# 455 $2,185.00
7/20/2004 PCGS MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2004 July New York, NY Signature Sale #320, 320/Lot# 5412 $1,897.50
9/8/2008 NGC MS 63   David Lawrence Rare Coins Monday - Internet Auction # 281, 287/Lot# 244 $425.50
2/28/2012 NGC MS 64   Stack's Bowers The March 2012 Baltimore Auction, 135/Lot# 1809 $592.25
7/12/2012 PCGS AU 55   Heritage Auctions 2012 July 12-15 US Coin Summer FUN Signature Auction - Orlando Session(4), 1172/Lot# 7573 $276.00
11/10/2013 PCGS AU 55   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 11/10/2013, 100/Lot# 148576 $181.50


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1866 RAYS 5C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base375472981313363954505055395886206637648471271238537475747140462440127281
426080109199355413468516555598634696791988164228394413851317497253610
00000041346851655559863469679198816422839441385131749700
0000004314865275716096487308191129201332935080112792094900
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 66
Points: 3712
Owner: jacmitch
 
Grade: MS 65
Points: 2385
Owner: mtayl03
 
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