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: 6/30/2015

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

1866 RAYS 5C MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 29.00 40.00 58.00 85.00 150 230 250 265 290 310 335 365 525 875 2050 4850 - - - -
$ 170 - - - - - - 400 625 1000 2650 11150 - -

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 1822
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 61
High Grade: 66


Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
11/4/2017 MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2017 November 2 - 4 US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas Session(5), 1261/Lot# 19271


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
12/29/1999 PCGS AU 55   Teletrade Auction 1253, 1253/Lot# 1127 $130.80
5/31/2004 PCGS MS 66   Goldberg May 31 - June 2, 2004 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 25/Lot# 454 $4,887.50
1/3/2007 PCGS MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2007 January Orlando, FL (FUN) Signature Coin Auction #422, 422/Lot# 2048 $1,035.00
3/25/2012 NGC Details AU Details  GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 03/25/2012, 15/Lot# 29622 $165.00
9/7/2014 PCGS AU 50   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 820, 829/Lot# 521 $227.00
10/30/2014 PCGS MS 64   Stack's Bowers November Baltimore 2014, 6039/Lot# 4038 $8,812.50
7/17/2016 NGC MS 62   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(2), 131630/Lot# 27465 $399.50


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1866 5C MS RAYS
 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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