Cents.  At least two varieties, both with date much more widely spaced than on any previous mintage. First: Normal die, common; physical properties like those of 1881-82, often pale or weirdly iridescent, sometimes dull brown. The weirdly iridescent ones came from Wayte Raymond.
- Second: Plainly recut 3. Very rare; Lester Merkin sale, Nov. 1965.
Three Cents.  At least two varieties. First die: Normal date, high, left base of 1 r. of left edge; cracks, rim to wreath at 12:00, 3:00, 8:00.
- Second die: "Overdate." Curve of 2 (?) within top of 3, die file marks in 883.1973 GENA: 602. Ex. rare.
Usually tones gray to gray-blue and often comes spotty. This should be subject to more date collector pressure, as business strikes are almost unknown, but enough proofs are around to supply the demand. The A. M. Smith hoard had 61.
Five Cents. Shield.  Some 3919 minted as of March 31, 1500 delivered as of June 26. (These figures from R. W. Julian.) Several die varieties. First: Overdate, top of 2 including upper curve and part of knob visible within upper part of 3. Rare, though not extremely so. Compare NN 57: 251 where one was sold for the first time given a proper description, for $150, then over three times value of the normal date.
- Second: First double date, first misplaced to right. Outlines are plainest at right sides of 83, less plain at r. sides of 18. The die of NN 57:253. Scarce and often unnoticed.
- Third: Second double date, first misplaced low. Outlines at bases of all four digits. Scarce only.
- Fourth: Partly recut date, outline at base of second 8 and top of 3. Die of lot 252, NN 57th sale. Much rarer than two preceding.
- Fifth: Normal date. Lower halves of both 8's and many letters filled (not constant). There may be more than one minor positional variety. Common enough. Garrett set.
As a date the 1883 shield type has been hoarded for reasons unknown. It of tens comes comparatively dull and with rounded borders and rims. Broad rims outside beaded borders are all but unknown. There are deceptive first strikes, and carelessly struck proofs, and when spotty ones have fallen victim to the cleaner, it is sometimes impossible to tell what they were originally.
- Liberty Head, no CENTS. [5219?] Some 3519 minted as of March 31, 1700 more delivered as of June 26. Much hoarded; often seen dull and carelessly struck, sometimes also poorly cleaned. There are deceptive first strikes and occasionally it is all but impossible to tell if a shiny piece was intended as proof -sometimes absolutely impossible if it has been scrubbed. On proofs, unlessscrubbing has obscured this feature, edges of digits are sharp, not rounded; this is less the case on uncirculated pieces. Several die varieties:
- First: Odd die crumbling within top of 3. Rare, seen in Lester Merkin's office.
-Second: Spine extends to left from middle of left upright of 1, probably part of a misplaced 1. Landau, NN 52:287, rare.
-Third: Plain doubling on 18. Lester Merkin auction, November 1965. This is very rare; I have seen only one other, and it is a naked eye variety.
- Fourth: Normal date, several positional varieties: 1 touching bust (very rare); close to bust (usual); distant from bust and near border (also rare). That makes at least seven obverse dies used on proofs, and probably more than three normal date positional varieties exist.
- Liberty Head, with CENTS. [6783?] Julian cites deliveries of 2850 on June 26, 1000 on October 11 (both probably this type), 2933 on December 31 (almost certainly this type). Several minor positional varieties; often dull or spotty. Should be much more often seen than the coin without CENTS, but enough examples are impaired (scrubbed, nicked or badly spotted) to justify the conclusion that perfect examples are harder to find than of the No CENTS. Fewer were hoarded, certainly, though this too, could be termed a type coin -first year of the design. The A. M. Smith hoard contained only 12 of these compared to 45 shield nickels and 21 No CENTS nickels, aside from the sets.
Minor proof sets. [6609?] It is unknown how many contained each type of nickel, nor can I account for the long-accepted erroneous figures for the nickels (5419 Shield, 6609 No CENTS, 2543 CENTS). The figure for the shield type is actually correct, but the others are irreconcilable with delivery dates as the latter were discovered by R. W. Julian. Apparently the earliest minor sets had only the shield nickels, and those of fall and winter had all three. In the A. M. Smith hoard, obtained by this veteran Mint publicist directly from the Mint, there were 34 minor sets, of which two had only the shield nickel, 6 only the shield and No CENTS, and the other 26 all three nickels. Oddly, the Frossard-Frey Copper Coins booklet of 1901 says nothing of 4- or 5-piece 1883 minor sets, nor does it specify which nickel was contained in the various minor sets sold in 1900-0l!
Dime. [1039?] Always available for a price; mediocre impressions. At least two varieties.
First die: *B-2. Date slants down, pendant almost over center of 8, first A of AMERICA solid. First publicized in LM 4/66. The majority variety.
Second die: Normal A's; incomplete drapery (lapped die). LM 9/67:222. Rare.
Mintage: First quarter 690, second 242, third 60 (?), fourth 102, total 1094. Some 1039 were delivered in the proof sets of the year leaving 55. By Coiner's records, 45 were melted at the beginning of 1884, which would mean 1039 from sets + 10 extras = 1049 net mintage. But the same strange accounting error took place here as in 1882: the Coiner simply omitted any mention of third quarter transactions. It is possible, as will be seen under Quarter Dollars (below), that in this instance a pair of compensating errors occurred, that ten dimes were included with the quarters for melting, and that consequently only 1039 net mintage could be counted for all denominations.
Quarter. [1039?] Date left, shield point about over left edge of 8, left base of 1 almost over r. edge. Rev. Tiny mark in first white stripe, crisscross lines at shield base. Once again, comparatively few of the 14,400 business strikes have remained to collectors save for deceptive prooflike first strikes. These have swollen the numbers of alleged proofs enough to keep this date from listing as high as earlier dates in the 1880's. The first strikes, as usual, have inferior relief detail and are often bag marked.
Mintage: First quarter 660, second 240, third 40 (?), fourth 154, total 1094, of which 1039 were delivered in proof sets, leaving 55. But the Coiner's records say that 65 were melted. Note that in the third quarter the available records give 50 silver dollars, 50 halves, 40 quarters and 60 dimes struck, but 50 complete sets delivered; nevertheless the Coiner's records ignore any transactions whatever for that quarter and proceed as though (for instance) all the pieces then struck had been delivered, leaving totals on hand June 30 unchanged as of October 1. It is possible, then, that ten quarters were counted as dimes in the resume of coins struck in the third quarter, and ten dimes were counted as quarters in the Coiner's Vault Account listing of coins melted or to be melted at year's end.