In 1871, the Mint produced only 561,000 Nickels for circulation. This was a new record low for the series, by far; the previous low was the year before when the Philadelphia Mint produced nearly 5 million Nickels. Naturally, this is one of the more sought-after of the Shield Nickel dates. The overall population is sustantially lower than in previous years, and the number of certified Mint State examples dropped by nearly a half. Surprisingly, a fair number of MS64 to MS65 examples are known, and even the MS66 grade is on par with more common dates such as 1869 and 1870.
The strike quality on this date is generally quite good, although an occasional piece will show weakness on the stars on the upper to upper right reverse. As usual, die cracks appear frequently.