The circulation strike 1885 Liberty Nickel is the primary key date of the series and commands a premium across all grade levels. The issue becomes particularly scarce at the gem level and higher. The major grading services PCGS and NGC have certified fewer than 200 pieces at grades MS65 and higher. Most of these are at the gem level, with about three dozen pieces graded MS66, only four pieces receiving a grade of MS67, and no examples graded higher. These figures may be inflated by resubmissions.
The few pieces at the MS67 grade level have not been offered at auction in the recent past.
A handful of pieces graded MS66 tend to be offered at public auction each year. The prices for these examples tend to be around the $15,000 level with superior examples for the grade often achieving higher prices. During 2013, an example graded PCGS MS66 with a green CAC sticker realized $22,325, representing the upper price threshold in recent years. Further back in 2008, an example graded PCGS MS66 realized $25,300.
The 1885 Proof Liberty Nickel shows about 1,800 examples certified by the major grading services . The majority of grades fall into the PR64 to PR65 range. Across the major grading services PCGS and NGC, approximately 300 pieces have been graded PR66, about 50 pieces graded PR67, and only four pieces graded PR68. Once again, the figures may be inflated due to the impact of resubmissions.
Of particular importance for these early proof issues is the degree of cameo contrast present. Examples which have been designated cameo or deep cameo command premiums above examples of comparable grades without the designation. Of the total 1,800 examples graded, approximately 300 have received the cameo designation with the highest numerical grade at PR67. Approximately a dozen examples have received the DCAM designation, with the highest numerical graded at PR66+.
An example graded PCGS PR68 realized a price of $12,650 at an auction held in 2011. Examples graded PR67 with the cameo designation have reached prices around the $5,000 level. The highest graded example with the Deep Cameo designation graded PCGS PR66+DCAM with a green CAC sticker realized a price of $6,498 at an auction held in 2014.