US Coins

Heritage offers finest-known Proof Shield ‘nickel’

An 1879/8 Shield 5-cent coin graded Proof 69 by Professional Coin Grading Service that Heritage called “The Single Finest Proof in the Series” was one of the most striking coins in the firm's Jan. 9 to 14 Florida United Numismatists auctions.

The overdate variety was clearly described by Walter Breen, who wrote, “As the 9 is narrower than the 8, faint traces of 8 can sometimes be seen on either side, but usually only within top and bottom,” advising collectors, “Use a microscope; the traces of 8 are always faint.”

1794 Flowing Hair dollarInside Coin World: Collecting silver dollars by type: The February monthly edition of Coin World features the nation’s legacy of silver dollars, stretching from 1794, when a small number of Flowing Hair dollars were struck, to today’s American Eagle silver dollar, produced by the millions every year.

While slightly scarcer than the “normal date” Proof 1879 Shield 5-cent coin, the presence of an overdate is secondary to the overall quality of this coin, with Heritage writing, “The surfaces are reflective beneath a layer of pastel iridescence that includes shades of blue, green, rose, and lemon-gold. Both sides are flawless.”

It was previously offered at Bowers and Merena’s January 2000 Rarities Sale — housed then in the same green label PCGS holder still encapsulating it — and it brought $23,000. It was later offered at an October 2014 Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction where it went unsold with that cataloger writing, “As vibrant, vivid and beautiful as any Proof Shield that one is ever likely to encounter, regardless of date.” At Heritage’s Jan. 10 Platinum Night auction it sold for $84,000. 

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