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The Shield Type Nickel was made possible by the Act of May 16, 1866 and a lot of lobbying by Joseph Wharton who owned the nickel mines in Pennsylvania. There are two type coins in the Shield Nickel series. The 1866 and 1867 Shield Nickel reverses feature rays. From 1867 until 1883, the reverses are without rays.

There are numerous die cracks and varieties in the Shiled Nickel Series, due to the hardness of nickel. Proof Shield Nickels are reasonably abundant as are uncirculated examples. Shield Nickels from 1877 to 1881 are rare as the mintages were greatly reduced.

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