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[1866-1883] Shield Nickels

The first Five Cent Piece minted was a billon composed of 75% Copper and 25% Nickel. This was Longacre's Shield design with Rays, which came out as proofs in 1865 and then as business strikes in 1866. These copper-nickel strikes in proof are much sought after and, when in very fine or better condition can have a certain ghostliness to them. The subsequent star rather than ray design (1866-1883) also shows a remarkable contrast between fields when of high quality. For both of these designs the authorized nickel and copper content remained the same.

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