VarietyPlus » Shield Nickels (1866-1883)

Shield Nickels (1866-1883)

Like the three-cent piece introduced the year before, the copper-nickel five-cent piece was created to retire the unpopular fractional currency notes of that value. These had themselves been issued in place of the silver half dime, hoarded since 1862 and never again to play a significant role in circulation.

A homely coin, the Shield Nickel was also proportionally too thick for its diameter, this awkward size resulting from the determination of Congress to have a coin weighing an even five grams. The result was poorly struck coins and rapid die failure. To reduce the rate at which dies cracked and chipped, the U. S. Mint removed the rays from this coin’s reverse in 1867, but the improvement in die life was negligible.

These coins were produced in large numbers from 1866 through 1869, but once the despised fractional notes had been replaced a redundancy of nickels developed, and mintages declined. A high mintage was not achieved again until 1882, by which time a replacement design was already being readied.

Moderately popular with date collectors, the only challenges to completing this series are the proof-only issues of 1877-78 and the low-mintage dates of 1879-81. Proofs of the latter three are more commonly seen than currency strikes.

This series is astonishingly rich in varieties. The rapid failure of dies and the consequent great number of dies needed to produce even modest mintages led to hasty work. The result was a vast array of doubled dies, repunched dates, hub changes and progressive die breaks. Perhaps the most prominent of these varieties are the Reverse of 1868 nickels, the 1869 Narrow Date dies, the several doubled-die obverses of 1872 and the various overdates of 1883. In all likelihood, there are as many or more variety collectors of this series as there are date collectors.

NGC attribute an extensive roster of Shield Nickel varieties described in VarietyPlus. Additional varieties are found within more specialized references.

Denom.MS/PFDateFee*NGC LabelVarietyPlusCONECAFivaz-Stanton (NEW)Fivaz-Stanton (OLD)FletcherSpindel
5CMS1866 RAYS DDO$15FS-101 VP-008  FS-001.7F-22S1-1000
5CMS1866 RAYS DDO$15FS-102 VP-009  FS-001.5F-21S1-7000
5CMS1866/1866 RAYS$15FS-301 VP-002  FS-001F-08S1-3000
5CMS1866/1866 RAYS$15FS-302 VP-001  FS-001.1F-10S1-3001
5CMS1866/1866 RAYS$15FS-303 VP-004  FS-001.2F-20S1-3002
5CMS1866/1866 RAYS-FS-304 VP-005  FS-001.3F-16S1-3003
5CMS1866/1866 RAYS$15FS-305 VP-006  FS-001.4F-13S1-3006
5CMS1866/1866 RAYS$15FS-306/401 OBV CLASHED     F-09S1-3007.5
5CMS1866/1866 RAYS$15FS-306/901 REV CLASHED     F-09AS1-3007
5CMS1866/1866 RAYS$15FS-307     F-10.01S1-3004
5CMS1866/1866 RAYS$15FS-308     F-11S1-3016
5CMS1866/1866 RAYS$15VP-007     F-12 
5CMS1867 RAYS-       
5CMS1867/1867 RAYS$15FS-301 VP-002  FS-002.1F-08S1-3004
5CMS1867/1867 RAYS DDO$15FS-302 VP-001  FS-002.4F-09S1-7000
5CMS1867/1-67 RAYS$15FS-303 VP-003  FS-002.7F-02S1-3002
5CMS1867 18/18 RAYS$15VP-011     F-04 
5CMS1867 RAYS MPD$15FS-304    FS-002.6F-01S1-4002
5CMS1867 NO RAYS-       
5CMS1867/1867 NO RAYS DDO$15FS-1102 VP-001  FS-002F-54S2-7000
5CMS1867/1867 NO RAYS$15FS-1301 VP-002  FS-001.9F-23S2-3002
5CMS1867/1867 NO RAYS$15FS-1302 VP-005  FS-002.15F-25 
5CMS1867/1867 NO RAYS$15FS-1303    FS-002.2F-21S2-3001
5CMS1867/1867 NO RAYS$15FS-1304 VP-006  FS-002.25F-20S2-3000
5CMS1867/1867 NO RAYS$15FS-1305 VP-003  FS-002.3F-22S2-3033
5CMS1867 18/18 NO RAYS$15FS-1306 VP-008  FS-002.35F-8.01 
5CMS1867/67 NO RAYS$15FS-1307 VP-004  FS-002.5F-38 
5CMS1867/67 NO RAYS$15FS-1308 VP-007  FS-002.9F-46S2-3012
5CMS1867 NO RAYS MPD$15FS-1309    FS-002.45  
5CMS1867 NO RAYS MPD$15FS-1310      S2-4002
5CMS1867/67 NO RAYS$15VP-010     Unlisted? 
5CMS1867/1867 NO RAYS$15VP-012     F-26 
5CMS1867 18/18 NO RAYS$15VP-013     F-13 
5CMS1868 REV OF 67$15       
5CMS1868 DDO REV OF 67$15FS-101 VP-001  FS-003F-42S1-1002
5CMS1868 DDO REV OF 67$15FS-103 VP-002  FS-003.8F-40S1-1005
5CMS1868 DDO REV OF 67$15FS-104 VP-005  FS-003.9F-34S1-1013
5CMS1868 DDO&DDR REV OF 67$15FS-105 VP-006  FS-003.95F-45S1-7000
5CMS1868 1/1 DDO REV OF 67$15FS-107 VP-003  FS-003.97F-43S1-7003
5CMS1868 DDO REV OF 67$15FS-111      S1-1010
5CMS1868/8 DDO REV OF 67$15VP-021     F-35.01 
5CMS1868 DDO REV OF 67$15VP-023      S1-1000
5CMS1868/1868 REV OF 67$15FS-301 VP-010  FS-003.2F-19S1-3008
5CMS1868/68 REV OF 67$15FS-303 VP-103  FS-003.35F-28.05 
5CMS1868/1868 REV OF 67$15FS-304 VP-012  FS-003.4F-25S1-3002
5CMS1868/1868 REV OF 67$15FS-305 VP-018  FS-003.45  
5CMS1868/68 REV OF 67$15FS-306 VP-017  FS-003.5F-24 
5CMS1868/68 REV OF 67$15FS-307 VP-016  FS-003.7F-29.02 
5CMS1868/68 REV OF 67$15FS-309 VP-015  FS-003.85F-11 
5CMS1868/1868 REV OF 67$15FS-310 VP-009  FS-003.98F-20 
5CMS1868 18/18 REV OF 67$15FS-311 MISSING LEAF VP-019  FS-003.985 S1-7014
5CMS1868 MPD REV OF 67$15FS-313    FS-003.6F-02 
5CMS1868/868 REV OF 67$15FS-314      S1-3017
5CMS1868 18/18 REV OF 67$15VP-014     F-18 
5CMS1868/1868 REV OF 67$15VP-022     F-16 
5CMS1868 REV 67 LATHE LINE$15FS-401 MISSING LEAF     F-56 
5CMS1868 REV OF 68$15       
5CMS1868 TDO REV OF 68$15FS-102 VP-007  FS-003.65 S2-1004
5CMS1868 DDO REV OF 68$15FS-106 VP-004  FS-003.96F-107.01S2-1007
5CMS1868 1/1 DDO REV OF 68$15FS-109 VP-001DDR-013 FS-037 S2-1003
5CMS1868 DDO REV OF 68$15VP-020     F-108 
5CMS1868/186 DDO REV OF 68$15VP-024      S2-7000
5CMS1868/868 REV OF 68$15FS-302 VP-011  FS-003.3F-106.1 
5CMS1868 MPD REV OF 68$15FS-312 VP-008  FS-003.1F-102S2-4000
5CMS1869 REV OF 67$15       
5CMS1869 REV OF 67$15NARROW DATE   FS-301FS-005F-01S1-0000
5CMS1869/1869 REV OF 67$15FS-1302 VP-004  FS-005.3F-104S2-3000
5CMS1869/1869 REV OF 67$15FS-1306 VP-005  FS-005.68F-105S2-3002
5CMS1869 REV OF 69$15       
5CMS1869 DDO REV OF 69$15FS-1101 VP-001  FS-004F-413S5-1002
5CMS1869/69 DDO REV OF 69$15FS-1102 VP-003  FS-004.5F-414S5-7000
5CMS1869/69 DDO REV OF 69$15FS-1103 VP-002  FS-005.67F-411 
5CMS1869 18/18 REV OF 69$15FS-1303 VP-006  FS-005.4F-202S3-3000
5CMS1869/1869 REV OF 69$15FS-1304 VP-007  FS-005.5F-408 
5CMS1869/1869 REV OF 69$15FS-1305 VP-008  FS-005.6F-409S5-3000
5CMS1869/1869 REV OF 69$15VP-009     F-403 
5CMS1869/1869 REV OF 69$15VP-010      S5-3009
5CMS1870/70 DDO$15FS-101 VP-002  FS-005.7F-03S1-7001
5CMS1870 DDO$15FS-102 VP-003  FS-005.74F-12S1-7000
5CMS1870/0 DDO$15FS-103 VP-001  FS-005.75F-3.01S1-7002
5CMS1870 DDO$15VP-008     F-08 
5CMS1870 1/1/1 1C CLASH$15FS-301 VP-006  FS-005.77F-15S1-8000
5CMS1870/870 MPD$15FS-302 VP-005  FS-005.76F-01 
5CMS1870/0 $15VP-009     F-05 
5CMS1870 DDR$15FS-801 VP-004  FS-005.9F-14S1-2002
5CMS1870 DDR$15FS-802      S1-2001
5CMS1870 DDR$15VP-007     F-13 
5CMS1871 DDO$15FS-101 VP-001  FS-006  
5CMS1871/1871 $15FS-301 VP-002  FS-006.5F-02S1-3000
5CMS1871/1871 $15VP-003     F-01 
5CMS1872 DDO$15FS-101 VP-006  FS-007F-121S2-1005
5CMS1872 DDO$15FS-102 VP-004  FS-007.1F-123S2-1008
5CMS1872 DDO$15FS-103 VP-002  FS-007.2F-124S2-1009
5CMS1872 DDO$15FS-104 VP-003  FS-007.3F-109S2-7002
5CMS1872 TDO$15FS-105 VP-005  FS-007.4F-05S1-7000
5CMS1872 DDO$15FS-106 VP-001  FS-007.5F-116S2-1002
5CMS1872/2 DDO & MPD$15FS-107/309      S2-7003
5CMS1872 DDO$15VP-011     F-117 
5CMS1872 DDO$15VP-013     F-115S2-1007
5CMS1872/1872 $15FS-301 VP-008  FS-007.6F-104S2-3001
5CMS1872 7/2/2/2 $15FS-302    FS-007.65 S2-4001
5CMS1872/1872 $15FS-303 VP-009  FS-007.7F-103S2-3004
5CMS1872/72 $15FS-304 VP-010  FS-007.76 S1-3000
5CMS1872/72 MPD$15FS-305    FS-007.77F-101.01 
5CMS1872/187 $15FS-306    FS-007.9F-02 
5CMS1872 MPD$15FS-307    FS-007.75F-101.02S2-4000
5CMS1872 SM/LG DATE$15FS-308 VP-007  FS-007.8F-102S2-3000
5CMS1873 CLOSED 3-       
5CMS1873 DDO CLOSED 3$15FS-101 VP-002  FS-008F-04S1-1002
5CMS1873 DDO CLOSED 3$15FS-102 VP-001  FS-008.7F-05S1-1000
5CMS1873 DDO CLOSED 3$15FS-103 VP-003  FS-008.8F-06S1-1001
5CMS1873 DDO CLOSED 3$15FS-104      S1-1003
5CMS1873 DDO CLOSED 3$15VP-005     F-08 
5CMS1873 DDO CLOSED 3$15VP-012     F-07 
5CMS1873 OPEN 3-       
5CMS1873 DDO OPEN 3$15FS-1101    FS-008.3F-113S2-1002
5CMS1873 DDO&MPD OPEN 3$15FS-1102 VP-004  FS-008.5F-102S2-7001
5CMS1873 DDO OPEN 3$15FS-1103      S2-1003
5CMS1873 DDO OPEN 3$15VP-009     F-111 
5CMS1873 DDO OPEN 3$15VP-011     F-UnlistedS2-1005
5CMS1873 LG/SMDT OPEN 3$15FS-1301 VP-006  FS-009F-106S2-3000
5CMS1873 8/1 OPEN 3$15FS-1302    FS-009.3F-103S2-3003
5CMS1873/18-3 OPEN 3$15FS-1303 VP-007  FS-009.5F-110S2-3001
5CMS1873/73 OPEN 3$15FS-1304    FS-009.7F-108.01S2-3002
5CMS1873/873 OPEN 3$15VP-010     F-107 
5CMS1874 DDO$15FS-101 VP-004  FS-010F-05S1-1001
5CMS1874 DDO$15FS-102 VP-003  FS-010.4F-12S1-1003
5CMS1874 DDO$15FS-103 VP-001  FS-010.5F-08S1-1002
5CMS1874 DDO$15FS-104 VP-002  FS-010.6F-09.01S1-1007
5CMS1874 DDO$15VP-005     F-10 
5CMS1874 18/18 $15FS-301    FS-010.7F-02S1-3001
5CMS1874 1/1 $15FS-302    FS-010.8F-01 
5CMS1875 DDO$15FS-101 VP-002  FS-011F-04S1-1002
5CMS1875 DDO$15FS-102 VP-001  FS-011.3F-05S1-1000
5CMS1875/75 DDO$15FS-103 VP-003  FS-011.5F-03S1-7000
5CMS1876 TDO$15FS-101 VP-001  FS-012F-04S1-1000
5CMS1876 DDO$15FS-102 VP-002  FS-012.1F-05S1-1001
5CMS1876/187 DDO$15FS-103     F-08S1-7000
5CMS1876 DDO$15VP-003     F-07 
5CMS1876 DDO$15VP-004     F-06 
5CMS1876 "BLEEDER"$15FS-401 EXTENDED LINES     F-09S1-8000
5CMS1879 18/18 $15VP-001     F-001 
5CMS1881/881 $15VP-001     F-01 
5CMS1882 DDO$15FS-101     F-19S1-1000
5CMS1882/2 $15FS-301    FS-012.5F-17.01 
5CMS1882/1882 $15FS-302     F-02S1-3009
5CMS1882/882 $15VP-001     F-06 
5CMS1883/2 SHIELD-       
5CMS1883/1882 SHIELD$15FS-301 VP-001  FS-013F-08S1-5000
5CMS1883/882 SHIELD$15FS-302 VP-002  FS-013.1F-09S1-5002
5CMS1883/82 SHIELD$15FS-303 VP-003  FS-013.2F-10S1-5003
5CMS1883/882 SHIELD$15FS-304 VP-004  FS-013.3F-08.01S1-5004
5CMS1883/8-2 SHIELD$15FS-305     F-07S1-5000
5CMS1883 1/1 SHIELD$15FS-311 VP-006  FS-012.8F-04S1-3000
5CMS1883/1883 SHIELD$15FS-312 VP-005  FS-012.9F-02S1-3001
5CMS1883/83 SHIELD$15VP-007     F-06 
5CPF1867 RAYS-       
5CPF1867 NO RAYS-       
5CPF1872 DDO$15VP-012     F-06 
5CPF1879 18/18 $15VP-001     F-01 
5CPF1883 SHIELD-       

* In order to have the above varieties requiring the $15 fee designated by NGC, VarietyPlus service must be requested at time of grading. VarietyPlus service is also available for coins already encapsulated by NGC. For coins where the fee column is blank, no VarietyPlus charge is required to have your coin designated during grading. For coins marked $15, a $15 surcharge applies to the tier fee during grading, or a $15 fee applies to have the VarietyPlus designation added to any coin already graded and encapsulated by NGC.
Fivaz, Bill & J.T. Stanton. The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties, 5th Edition, Volume 1. Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2009
Fletcher, Edward L., Jr.,. The Shield Five Cent Series: A Comprehensive Listing of Known Varieties. Dead End Publishing, Ormond Beach, 1994
Peters, Gloria & Cynthia Mohon. The Complete Guide to Shield & Liberty Head Nickels. DLRC Press, Virginia Beach, 1995