Shield Nickels are some of the first coins produced by the US Mint on an absolutely massive scale. They were first minted following the Civil War and, apart from a few design changes, are still being minted today. Shield Nickels are some of the most popular types of Nickels because they were the first. Naturally, collectors who are looking to piece together a complete collection of Nickels will want the first editions before any other.
While finding coins such as the 1874 Shield Nickel may not be all that difficult, finding them in decent condition is. For collectors, the condition of the coin is everything, so they are constantly trying to get their hands on the most well-preserved pieces.
For a collector, the first thing looked at when it comes to coins as old as the 1874 Shield Nickel is the overall condition of the piece. Because these coins were produced so long ago and used on a daily basis, those that have survived the years are not in great shape.
When you judge the condition of a coin, this is a process known as grading. Grading is typically performed by a professional service utilizing the opinions of experts, but with the specifications below you can gain a better understanding of what characteristics coins of different grades have.
Uncirculated: In absolutely pristine condition, an Uncirculated Shield Nickel is one that saw next to no time in circulation. These coins will show absolutely no wear and will have all of its raised imagery intact and able to be felt. Even the mint’s original luster will be on full display as the changing of hands never got the opportunity to tarnish the coin’s finish.
Extremely Fine: An Extremely Fine Shield Nickel is one that saw only a short amount of time in circulation. For the most part these coins will be pristine, but some light scratching may be able to be deciphered. All in all, however, the coin will be free from major blemishes and might even have some of its original luster intact.
Fine: If your coin is graded to be Fine, you have yourself a coin that saw quite a bit of time in circulation. As a result of all this time being exchanged, the coin itself will have a lot of scratching and other signs of wear. Still, the imagery and inscriptions will be able to be made out without much trouble at all. As you might have guessed, these coins will have almost no shine at all.
Good: In Good condition, a Shield Nickel will sport many, many signs of wear and tear. From scratching to chipping and just about anything in between, these coins are going to be in rough shape. Even the boundaries separating the images and inscriptions from the rest of the coin will have begun to fade a bit.
If you want to value an 1874 Shield Nickel, you must not look much further than the condition the coin. Because so few 1874 Shield Nickels survived the years in good condition, collectors are willing to pay top dollar for one that has been well preserved. By way of the chart below, you can garner a better idea as to what you might pay for an 1874 graded Shield Nickel.
1874 Shield Nickel
|1874||$28||$50||$160||$240||Source: Red Book|