Ron Guth: In 1883, mint officials changed the design on the Five-Cents denomination. A head of Liberty wearing a coronet replaced the old Shield design. On the reverse, a wreath repalced the stars and a large Roman numeral "V" replaced the old Arabic numeral 5. Another, seemingly inconsequential change created all sorts of problems when the new coins came out -- the motto "E Pluribus Unum" took the place of the word "CENTS." Taking advantage of this omission, enterprising individuals plated the new nickels with gold, then passed them off as new Five Dollar gold pieces. Enough people were fooled that mint officials recognized the problem and fixed it by restoring the word CENTS to its usual place at the bottom of the coin and moved the motto to above the wreath on the reverse. This change occurred in 1883, creating two major varieties for the year.
The so-called "No CENTS" variety is common in all; grades including Mint State. Literally thousands of MS-63, MS-64, and MS-65 examples have been certified by PCGS. Even MS-66 examples are common. In MS-67, the population drops off a cliff, with PCGS reporting only 16 examples (as of September 2011), with none finer.
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