The legendary key date status of the 1885 Liberty nickel drives unparalleled demand for high-grade representatives. While Uncirculated coins can usually be found for a price through MS65, Premium Gems are rarely offered, and finer pieces are so rare as to be uncollectible from the perspective of most Liberty nickel enthusiasts.
In our upcoming November 1-3 Dallas Signature auction, we are offering an example graded MS67 by PCGS – the first Superb Gem that we have ever offered at auction, and the first 1885 nickel in this grade to be auctioned publicly in more than a decade. In the American Numismatic Rarities (ANR) sale of the Dale Friend Collection in March 2006, the Friend MS67 PCGS coin realized $74,750. No top-grade representative has been auctioned since.
We believe that the combined PCGS- and NGC-certified population of four coins in this grade is likely accurate. The Friend coin is housed in the All-Time Finest PCGS Registry Set, and the present piece is from the only other Registry Set that contains a coin in this grade. A third PCGS example is plated on the CoinFacts webpage. NGC lists a single Star-designated Superb Gem, which is presumably the same as the MS67 NGC coin from a September 1999 Goldbergs auction reholdered, although this has not been confirmed.
At least two of the other MS67s as well as a number of the Premium Gems known are from the same cracked die pair, prominently showing a break through the date and another in the field left of Liberty’s profile.
This piece is from another die pair, only lightly cracked through AMERICA, with a horizontal tine extending inward from the border dentil above the final A.
The strike is uniformly sharp, and the cartwheel luster is original and satiny. Delicate champagne, rose, and powder-blue hues decorate the surfaces. A 10x loupe fails to reveal a single notable flaw, although held at certain angles one can see the remnants of die polishing lines in the fields, indicative of an early die state. We would not be surprised if this glimmering Condition Census coin breaks the price record for the issue.