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: 7/17/2014

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

1866 RAYS 5C MS
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 29.00 40.00 58.00 85.00 150 150 230 250 265 290 310 335 365 525 875 2300 4850 - - - -
$ 170 250 265 290 310 330 360 400 625 1000 2600 11150 - -
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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 1605
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 62
High Grade: 66


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
11/4/1996 NGC MS 64   Teletrade Auction 0890, 890/Lot# 1129 $305.20
3/5/2007 NGC MS 65   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 129, 134/Lot# 282 $1,725.00
11/2/2008 PCGS MS 63   Heritage Auctions Sunday Internet Coin Auction #68112, 68112/Lot# 62088 $402.50
9/6/2009 PCGS MS 64   Goldberg September 6-8, 2009 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 54/Lot# 2481 $805.00
12/2/2010 NGC MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2010 December Houston Signature US Coin Auction Session(1), 1147/Lot# 3321 $2,300.00
3/25/2012 NGC Details AU Details  GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 03/25/2012, 15/Lot# 29622 $165.00
3/21/2013 PCGS MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2013 March 21 -22 & 24 US Coin Signature Auction - Dallas Session(1), 1183/Lot# 3165 $1,821.25
8/30/2013 PCGS AU 53   Stack's Bowers The September 2013 Philadelphia Auction, 195/Lot# 4281 $191.53


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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