The 1883/2 Shield
Nickel Web Pages
Background Information for the1883/2 Shield Nickels
Shield nickels were plagued by problems since their inception in 1866. Among the causes of these problems were:
The first two points required the mint to use a much higher pressure in striking the shield nickel than was desirable. This meant that the dies wore out much quicker than usual. A typical shield nickel die would last for 10000-15000 coins. Contrast that with the dies for a Morgan dollar, which would last for hundreds of thousands of coins.
The first two points combined with the final point to put pressure on the mint to produce dies rapidly, and these dies were often produced very carelessly. The entire shield nickel series is riddled with mint errors such as doubled dies and repunched dates. (Click here to see a couple shield nickel varieties besides the 1883/2.)
In 1883, the mint had some extra shield nickel dies left over from 1882. These leftover dies had the 1882 date impressed upon them. Rather than throwing these valuable dies away the mint ground off the 1882 date and repunched the dies with an 1883 date.
Because all of the rework was done by hand, no two of the reworked dies look exactly the same. The original 1882 date was not always removed completely, and different pieces of it were left behind on different dies. The new 1883 date was not always punched in exactly the same location relative to the original 1882 date. When pieces of the original 2 are still visible on an 1883 dated shield nickel, that is called an 1883/2 overdate variety.
A true 1883/2 shield nickel is a rarity. Many times a major coin show will not have even a single example.
This website explains how to recognize the true overdate, and how to avoid the coin most commonly mistaken for the true overdate.
All text and images for the 1883/2 Shield Nickel website are Copyright (C) 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2015 by Howard Spindel