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By James Matthews, Senior Numismatist and Consignment Director, U.S. Coins

Introduced in 1866, the copper-nickel five-cent coin has remained an integral part of our nation's coinage ever since. This coin traces its roots to the suspension of specie payments that occurred during the Civil War. Silver and gold coins disappeared from circulation soon after the conflict began in 1861. Initially the silver half dime was replaced with five-cent Postage Currency and later, Fractional Currency notes, which circulated well after General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865 as specie payments remained in suspension after the end of the war. In order to provide an alternative to this currency, Congress followed the three-cent copper-nickel coins of 1865 with similar five-cent copper-nickel coins authorized by the Act of May 16, 1866.

By Jeff Ambio, Senior Numismatist and Chief Cataloger, U.S. Coins

PCGS Proof-66 Ranks Among Finest-Certified Survivors from an Unknown Mintage

Over the course of a 13+ year career as a professional numismatist and cataloger for one of the nation's leading rare coin auction houses, I have been extremely fortunate to handle most of the rarest and most highly coveted coins ever struck in the United States Mint, and for many of these issues more than one example.