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Are there any diagnostics for an 1886 ms nickel vs the proof?

I have a third party graded ms 1886 nickel but the obverse is prooflike, reverse is not. Any way to know if the grade is correct as ms?


  • davewesendavewesen Posts: 5,465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think I heard years ago that you could tell by looking inside the ear.

  • superpsychmdsuperpsychmd Posts: 1,271 ✭✭✭

    And what would you see?

  • superpsychmdsuperpsychmd Posts: 1,271 ✭✭✭

    C’mon guys I’m serious. Would really appreciate the help with this question

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 30,360 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @superpsychmd said:
    C’mon guys I’m serious. Would really appreciate the help with this question

    I don't know if there are any PUPs but the last thing I would look at is the fields. If it is a proof, it will be very sharply struck with very square rims and denticles.

    A picture might help.

  • superpsychmdsuperpsychmd Posts: 1,271 ✭✭✭

    I’ll post it in the AM, thanks


  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,228 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Agree with the rims. I have always understood that they usually tell the story.

  • jdimmickjdimmick Posts: 9,542 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Here is a proof, that resembles a business strike, but it has semi reflective surfaces and rims are square(hard to tell though as it is in a rattler holder)

  • jdimmickjdimmick Posts: 9,542 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I had bought a complete set of liberty nickels a few moths ago, some were worthy of submitting, some already holdered, and some had corrosion spots on outer rim so I had to sell those raw. Apparently, to save a few bucks, the guy bought proofs for some of the dates instead of MS examples. Some were hard to tell in all honestly, but if you look close enough for the diagnostics, you can pretty much get most correct.

  • koynekwestkoynekwest Posts: 10,048 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The edges should be fully prooflike as well.

  • MarkKelleyMarkKelley Posts: 1,672 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The rims of a proof will be square and the edge will be mirrored.

  • leothelyonleothelyon Posts: 8,300 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Dies that strike proofs are highly polished with some kind of compound like diamond dust and using highly polished planchets/coin blanks also, eventually. are used to strike business strikes but the dies are treated with rougher sand paper or acid to retard the finish on the die and unpolished blanks are used. Whatever they do for this transformation between preparing the dies for the kind of coin they're making, depending on how well they do their job, of course, they might not do anything at all to the dies and have left-over polished blanks and decide to strike business strikes immediately after striking proofs. But the pressure of the coin press is very likely reduced before striking business strikes and the amount of detail/the sharpness of the devices on a coin may be less and the only means to differentiate a proof from a business strike. Wide rims, railed rims to thin rims depending on the number of coin blanks a die has encountered, the more, the less of a rim, the fewer, the wider the rim. And sometimes, wired rims which is a clear indication of some very high coining pressure. The higher rims will make a coin appear thicker. So business strikes can be found with proof-like fields/surfaces due to many of the ways and means mentioned above but a intense study of what those details should look like will help determine whether a coin is a proof or a business strike. But there has to be a field of play between the two levels of strike/details and who determines that? Usually someone who has seen enough coins within a series. And its a rare individual who has studied them all.
    But I just love proof-like Jefferson nickels. I have several in my collection, I consider proof-like fields the highest level of luster that can appear on a coin.


    The more qualities observed in a coin, the more desirable that coin becomes!

    My Jefferson Nickel Collection

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,257 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I always had a lot of trouble with these when I was authenticating. I have no answer for you. Good luck.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • WinLoseWinWinLoseWin Posts: 1,443 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Here is the 1886 5c page from the Breen book on proof coins with some interesting comments and probably way out of date incomplete info.

    There are books with newer info I'm certain, but I don't have any.


    "To Be Esteemed Be Useful" - 1792 Birch Cent --- "I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain." - Lily Tomlin

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