Coin Specifications

Category: Shield Five Cents (1866-1883)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 14,742,500
Obverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Reverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Composition: Copper-Nickel
Weight: 5.0000g
Diameter: 20.5mm
Edge: Plain
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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: 5/25/2020

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

1866 RAYS 5C MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 35.00 45.00 70.00 125 170 225 235 245 285 350 375 415 515 710 1500 3100 - - - -
$ 185 - - - - - - 415 600 975 2500 10000 - -

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 1919
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 61
High Grade: 66

The chart showing PrAg series, G series, VG series, F series, VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series, 65 series, 66 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 7/7/2020 1866 RAYS 5C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base381714533857315897148109319232257817723----1919
---------------1------1
--------------1443----12
-----------------------
Total381714533857315897148109319232358318126----1932
 0%0%1%1%3%2%3%2%3%5%8%1%5%10%17%30%9%1%---- 

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1866 RAYS 5C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base10211916323032050259768472575480283888293311731583264337655765140462440127281
10813418526038153462669873577081485389910131310193630174432852517498253610
0000006266987357708148538991013131019363017443285251749800
00000065571174478682686791610931446229033915098112862094900
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 65
Points: 2643
Owner: Amazon
 
Grade: MS 65
Points: 2643
Owner: mtayl03
 
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