Ron Guth: In 1872, Philadelphia Mint employees produced over 6 million Shield Nickels. Why the mintage jumped so high (or why it was so low in the previous year) is unclear. In any event, this is a common date that can be found easily in most circulated and uncirculated grades up through MS65. In MS66, the population of PCGS-certified examples falls to only 18. The only coin with a higher grade is a single PCGS MS67.
Occasionally, 1872 Nickels show weakness in the radial lines on the reverse stars. Die cracks are seen often, though not in the numbers and severity as seen on some of the earlier dates.
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