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1885 Liberty Head Nickel : A Collector’s Guide

1885 Liberty Head Nickel. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1885 Liberty Head Nickel. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

The Philadelphia Mint struck over 1.472 million 1885 Liberty Head nickels. Because of the influx of nickels being returned to the Treasury Department, production of the denomination was halted in March of that year, resulting in the low mintage. The 1885 is key to the series and scarce in Mint State.

Some examples have a large die crack that runs from the rim above star one through the 188 in the date. Some have a die crack that runs from the top of star four to the bottom of star five, through Liberty’s hair and diadem, and ending at star seven. The reverse can show a die crack through F AM.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS MS-67 (8, 3/2024). NGC MS-67 (2, 3/2024). CAC MS-67 (1:0 stickered:graded, 2/2024).

The PCGS population MS-67 population has increased from two to eight since 2006. Subsequently, at this top pop grade, auction prices realized have fallen by over 70%.

  • PCGS MS-67 #38257565: Stack’s Bowers, November 14, 2023, Lot 3017 – $19,800. Three raised die bumps to the right of star 7. Die crack running from star 4 to Liberty’s forehead. Die line extending from the left top of the wreath. Darkly toned.
  • PCGS MS-67: “The Dale Friend Collection,” American Numismatic Rarities, March 14, 2006, Lot 292 – $74,750. Rose and blue toning. Pop 2 at the time of sale.
  • CACG MS-66+ CMQ #604195319: Lester Merkin, April 1972, Lot 220; As PCGS MS-66 CAC #46666965. “The Jeromse S. Reznick Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, August 2023, Lot 6167 – $10,800; As CACG MS-66+ CMQ #604195319. Stack’s Bowers, March 26, 2024, Lot 4045 – View. Virtually mark free obverse. Smashed obverse die with myriad large die cracks. A number of minor vertical marks on the reverse, one large one to the left of V. Large die crack through CENTS.
  • PCGS MS-66+ CAC #81767018: Stack’s Bowers, November 14, 2019, Lot 3039 – $10,800.
  • PCGS MS-66+ #35690005: Stack’s Bowers, August 15, 2018, Lot 1095 – $9,000.
  • PCGS MS-66 CAC #46666965: Lester Merkin, April 1972, Lot 220; “The James S. Reznick Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, August 18, 2023, Lot 6167 – $10,800.
  • PCGS MS-66 #29639399: Stack’s Bowers, June 22, 2018, Lot 1190 – $10,200.
  • PCGS MS-66 #25662060: Stack’s Bowers, November 2015, Lot 20016 – $10,575.
  • PCGS MS-66: Stack’s Bowers, January 22, 2013, Lot 13132 – $21,150. Goldenrod hue.
  • PCGS MS-66: “The Greenbrier River Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, August 7, 2012, Lot 11258 – $40,000 Reserve Not Met. Rattler, die crack from rim to star 1 through tip of bust through 188 of date to rim. Through NTS of CENTS.

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1885 Liberty Head Nickel Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1885
Denomination: Five Cents (USD)
Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 1,472,700
Alloy: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
Weight: 5.0 g
Diameter: 21.2 mm
Edge: Plain
OBV Designer: Charles E. Barber
REV Designer: Charles E. Barber
Quality: Business Strike


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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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