1880 5C MS (PCGS# 3810)

2010 June Long Beach, CA Signature US Coin Auction #1140

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    Heritage Auctions
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Lot Description
1880 5C MS65 NGC. In 1872 Germany switched to a gold standard, over the next few years dumping millions of ounces of silver on the world markets. The years 1876 through 1878 were the peak production years for the fabled Comstock Lode in Nevada, with about $36 million/year worth of silver added to the world supply. These factors and others combined to depress the prices of silver to historic lows, as well as to ensure that silver coins (minted after 1853) were worth far more unmelted than as bullion. On April 20, 1876, the Treasury began releasing a long-stored horde of silver coins. If one examines the mintage figures for most minor coinage denominations, both silver and otherwise, one notes a gradual decrease beginning around 1876-78 and lasting until about 1890, with a few exceptions. In the case of the Shield nickel, the 1877 and 1878 are the well-known proof-only issues--both of which, by virtue of the lack of business strikes, became instant rarities. Both the 1879 and 1880 Shield nickels were produced in small numbers, apparently to prevent a repeat. The 1879 business strikes were produced to the extent of 25,900 coins, but proofs are readily available, which keeps the prices somewhat depressed for Mint State examples. The 1880 Shield nickel is by a wide margin the key to business strike Shield nickels, with its mingy production of only 16,000 coins. That production was accomplished through the use of proof dies, so the population data for both types of coins are somewhat unreliable. Bowers' Guide Book of Shield and Liberty Nickels introduces several diagnostics of true business strikes, including: {ul}{li} a small thornlike projection from the reverse rim between the TS of CENTS;{/li} {li} repunched outside top loop of the first S in STATES; and{/li} {li} a tiny raised "island" in the field below the last T in STATES.{/li} {/ul} Those diagnostics are clearly visible on the reverse of this Gem, and Bowers says they are associated with an obverse that shows the
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