Ron Guth: The 1880 Shield Nickel boasts the second highest Proof mintage of the series (second only to the 1883). As a business strike, this date has the lowest mintage by far, thus some pressure exists from the date collecting community, where collectors are willing to accept a nice Proof example in place of a rare business strike. However, the pressure is not too intense, and the 1880 Proof Nickel is only slightly more expensive than the other Proof dates.
As of December 2011, PCGS had certified over 1,000 Proof 1880 Nickels, mostly in the PR-64 and PR-65 grades. Nearly 20% are Cameo Proofs, though this percentage is expected to increase because, early on, PCGS did not recognize the Cameo and Deep Cameo designations. Since they began making this distinction, PCGS has certified only one Deep Cameo Proof 1880 Nickel, indicating the extreme rarity of that format.
The finest Proof 1880 Nickels certified by PCGS include the following: 15 PR-67 non-Cameos; 14 PR-67 Cameos; and 1 PR-64 Deep Cameo.
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