The Shield Nickel series began in 1866 as a new composition for the five cent piece. Until this point, five cent coins were minted as half dimes with a silver based composition. The Shield Nickel with a weight of five grams and composition of copper and nickel was authorized by the Act of May 16, 1866. The obverse of the coin features an ornate shield, similar to the one that had appeared on the two-cent piece. The reverse contained a large numeral five surrounded by stars with rays between the stars for 1866 and the early mintage of 1867.
The designer of the Shield Nickel was James B. Longacre. In 1883 the design was replaced with the Liberty Nickel design by Charles Barber.
For the Shield Nickel series:
There were sixteen different years when circulation strike coins were produced. This includes the dates from 1866 to 1876, and 1879 to 1883. For 1877 and 1878, proof coins were produced even though coins were not minted for circulation.
- The total number of coins struck for circulation was 128,017,100.
- The highest mintage occurred for the 1867 Shield Nickel “no rays” coin with 28,890,500 produced for circulation.
- The lowest circulation mintage occurred for the 1880 Shield Nickel when just 16,000 coins were produced.
- The average annual mintage was 8,001,069. This is computed based on the annual totals for each year when circulating coins were produced.
Shield Nickel Mintages
|1867 No Rays||28,890,500|
Source: Shield Nickels