I don't know why, but whenever we find Shield nickels, they're all worn out. The first one we found we didn't even know what it was till we went to our metal detecting club meeting.
It was the only thing we found at Short Beach except for some shotgun shells. We now have two Shield nickels.
The shield type nickel was made possible by the Act of May 16, 1866. In 1866 the coin was designed with rays between the stars on the reverse.
Some of the pieces minted in 1867 have the same details, but later the rays were eliminated creating two varieties for that year.
There was no further change in the type until it was replaced by the Liberty head device in 1883.
Only proof pieces were struck in 1877 and 1878. These nickel shield type pieces were minted between 1866 and 1883. The most valuable (in an EF40) is the 1880 coin.
Shield nickels weigh 5 grams and are made out of an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel.