1867 Rays 5C PR66 ★ Cameo NGC. Danreuther-2. The left base of the 1 in the date is over the left portion of a dentil. The lower portion of the shield displays die polish. The lower shield is clear for Dannreuther-1, and Dannreuther-3 has the left base of the 1 over the right portion of a dentil. The rarity of the proof 1867 Rays nickel was known to collectors at an early date, and it appears that the Mint made unofficial restrikes between 1867 and 1879, likely for sale at a profit to well-connected Philadelphia dealers.
The 1867 Rays nickel has a traditional proof mintage of 25 pieces, which presumably applies only to examples struck in early 1867. In the 2006 Guide Book of Shield and Liberty Head Nickels, Q. David Bowers estimates a mintage of 55 to 80 proofs. This figure is approximately 10% of the 1867 No Rays mintage, and less than 2% of the proof production for the 1883 Shield nickel. The key date status of the proof 1867 Rays variety is unchallenged.
Delicate plum-red, gold, and ice-blue toning visits this flashy and intricately struck Premium Gem. The attractive patina is undoubtedly the inspiration for the Star designation awarded by NGC. For those who research the pedigrees of this rare variety, we note a small planchet flake beneath the E in CENTS, and a curly Mint-made lint mark at the lower right corner of the N in IN.
NGC has seen 30 proof 1867 Rays nickel "certification events" in all grades, although several of those certainly represent duplicate submissions (3/11). None have been certified as Ultra Cameo, and none have been certified without a Cameo designation above the PR65 level. Four proofs are graded PR66 Cameo, but only this piece and one other (or the present piece twice) have garnered the Star designation. The present piece thus holds the honor of tied for finest NGC-certified, assuming the two pieces are different coins. The PCGS population is similar, with none encapsulated as Deep Cameo and none certified higher than PR66 with or without a Cameo designation.
From The Slotkin Family Trust Collection. (Registry values: P6) (#83818).
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