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Policy Update: 1865 Plain and Fancy “5” Two-Cent Pieces

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Plain 5 vs Fancy 5

Close up of plain and fancy ‘5’ examples of 1865 Two-Cent piece. Image courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts®. (Click image to enlarge)

In response to popular demand, PCGS will now be classifying 1865 two-cent pieces as either “Plain 5” or “Fancy 5”. All examples submitted for grading will receive the appropriate designation free of charge.

PCGS has long made the equivalent distinction among Indian Head cents of the same year in accordance with strong collector interest. Though referred to only by its most dramatically-resculpted numeral, in fact all four punches differ between the two varieties, the rounded and irregular figures of the “Plain 5” type giving way to the ornate, boldly rendered script of the “Fancy.” The sloping top and bubblier serif of the “1” have been replaced by precise, crisp lines; the squat “8” forcefully heightened; the “6” knobbed. Proof strikings of both denominations are exclusively of the “Plain 5” variety.

1865 marked a year of intense production for the two-cent piece as the mint frantically issued small copper in effort to replace specie hoarded during the Civil War. Over 13 million were struck – more than the entire output for the denomination over the following seven years. For more information on this short-lived and charismatic series, see “Collecting Two-Cent Pieces, 1864/1873” by Q. David Bowers.

Though variety attribution service will not be required to receive the “Plain 5” and “Fancy 5” designations, collectors are advised to examine their 1865 two-cent pieces closely, as the year is replete with exciting Cherrypickers’ Guide varieties to be found, from repunched and misplaced dates to doubled and clashed dies. See the PCGS CoinFacts page for each type for a complete list of varieties recognized by PCGS.

No changes will be made to existing PCGS Set Registry® Compositions. Only one 1865-dated coin is required to complete the Basic Set or Classic Set, while one example of each date format is required to complete the Major Variety Set.

Set Registry New Services Grading Two Cent Pieces (1864-1889)