Ron Guth: The 1869 Shield Nickel was the last date to have a mintage over 10 million pieces. Because of the relatively largemintage, many examples survived in high grade in collections and accumulations. The most frequenyl-seen grade (by far) is MS-64, but ample quantities exist in MS65 to satisfy the demand for gem examples. The PCGS Condition Census consists entirely of MS66 examples, of which PCGS has certified eleven.
This date, like so many others in the series, often shows spidery die cracks, especially on the obverse. Often, the stars on the reverse are weakly struck. The ultimate 1869 Shield Nickel is one that is fully struck, bright, lustrous, and with no (or few) die cracks. Good luck finding such a creature!