Shield Nickels are from a great time period of American coinage, and are a very heavily sought after item by collectors. The 1870 edition is just the 5th release of the coin and is something collectors want, because collections of Shield Nickels are most often begun with the early years’ coins. Unfortunately, because of how long ago this particular coin was released, the condition the coin is in can vary dramatically.
Collectors, being as picky as they are, will only want a Shield Nickel in superb condition, which is why 1870 Nickels in excellent shape sell for a lot more than a similar coin in poor condition.
Being that the 1870 Shield Nickel is well over one hundred years old, the condition of the coin is the first concern for collectors. No matter who you are or what type of collector you are, it is always going to come down to the condition of the coin.
Officially judging the condition of a coin such as this one is known as giving the coin a grade. Grading, by nature, is nothing more than assigning a standard, one-word description of the coin by way of a professional service. Though you may not be a professional coin grader, you can use the specifications below to derive a good idea of what the characteristics of graded coins are.
Uncirculated: An Uncirculated Shield Nickel is one that never saw time exchanging hands on the open market. These coins will be wholly pristine and will play host to no scratching or any other blemishes. Most surprising is the fact that the mint’s original luster will remain intact, even though the coin is almost 150 years old.
Extremely Fine: To be given this grade, the coin in question must have only been circulated for a very short period of time. Very minimal scratching will be present on the coin’s faces, but nothing significant in nature. Due to circulation, the coin’s shine will have likely faded with the years. In almost all cases, the only part of the coin where wear is visible is on the leaves that surround the shield.
Fine: Coin’s given this grade were circulated for an extended period of time, but somehow managed to avoid being overly worn. You will find that the boundaries separating images and inscriptions from the rest of the coin will have begun to fade, but the imagery on the coin is still easy to make out. In addition, you will notice that the coin’s faces have been smoothed a bit due to being touched over and over throughout the years.
Good: To receive this grade, the coin will have had spent many years in circulation. During this time, the Nickel will have been subjected to plenty of scratching, chipping, and on some occasions bending. The images and inscriptions are mostly smooth at this point, but can still be made out with the naked eye.
When it comes to giving these coins a price, you must look no further than the condition the coin is in. Because collectors are constantly trying to get their hands on the most well-preserved pieces, it should come as no surprise that higher prices accompany coins in the best condition. The chart below will give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay for a coin given its grade.
1870 Shield Nickel
|1870||$25||$50||$90||$140||Source: Red Book|