NGC Identifies Two New Shield Nickel Varieties

The following is a Press Release from Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) announcing that it has identified two previously unpublished varieties of the Shield Five-Cent coin. The Shield Nickel was produced by the United States Mint from 1866-1883.

Collectors of the Shield Five-Cent series from 1866-83 know that the opportunity to find previously unpublished varieties is perhaps greater for these coins than for any other series of US coins. Despite the publication of a fairly extensive book on Shield Nickel varieties by Edward Fletcher titled The Shield Five Cent Series, additional varieties have been identified by NGC in the normal course of business.

Two pieces submitted recently for VarietyPlus® attribution service turned out to be missing from Fletcher’s book and unknown to Shield Nickel authority Howard Spindel. When NGC cannot match a Shield Nickel to either the Fletcher book or The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of US Coins, photographs are sent to Spindel for his examination. In some instances he is able to identify the specimen to one cataloged in his database, but the two recent examples had to be assigned entirely new Spindel numbers. They were then given VarietyPlus numbers by NGC, which were used to label the coins when attributed and graded. The Spindel numbers appear as cross-references within NGC’s VarietyPlus service

The early years of the Shield Nickel series offer the most fertile hunting ground, the dates 1866-68 experiencing large mintages, which resulted in the use of numerous dies. Since the nickel five-cent piece was difficult for the Philadelphia Mint to coin, due to the hardness of its alloy and the disproportionately thick planchets, many dies failed prematurely, increasing the pressure to create additional dies quickly. The two new discoveries are both 1867 nickels having the No Rays reverse. Each features a boldly repunched date, and close examination reveals that neither is a match for the many RPD varieties already cataloged for that variety-rich year.


The example certified as VP-019 (S2-3050) was graded by NGC as AU Details – Environmental Damage. The VP-020 (S2-3051) nickel was certified as NGC MS 61.

Coins may be submitted to NGC for grading and variety attribution at the grading tier fee plus $18 for attribution. Coins already graded by NGC may be submitted for variety attribution at just the $18 fee.

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