This is believed by some to be a true prototype of the Shield nickel design.
A March 2000 article in Coin World by Victoria Stone Moledor stated that these are restrikes which were made circa 1868 and struck after J418/P490. We believe that both originals and restrikes exist of this pattern based on the following information.
1) There was an example listed as lot 2241 in the 1867 Mickley sale. If this is not an error in the catalog - it sold for only 20 cents to Sylvester Crosby - then at least some of these may be originals.
2) The copper pieces, J417/P489, all have a prominent center dot on the reverse which is the identical die used to strike the 1866 pattern and regular issue proofs. Remember to click on the thumbnail image above to see an enlargement.
3) The nickel pieces, J416/P488, exist from 2 different reverses. For example, the one in Bowers and Merena's 1/01 sale, lot 615, and/or lot 918 of Bowers and Merena's 1/03 sale has the center dot but the one in Bowers and Merena's 11/97 sale lot 1379 is specifically mentioned as not having it. This latter piece is likely a restrike made when the J418/P490 was made circa 1869 or later.
Additional Note: Dave Bowers has come across a May 19, 1866 bill which shows the Mint paying a Mr. S. E. Adamson $2 for a large #5 punch. If this punch is indeed for the 5 used on the "Stars and Bars" reverse, then these pieces could not have been struck earlier than mid-1866 thus if any of these are "originals" then they were struck from an unused 1865 obverse die in 1866.
Regardless of their status, these are very popular with both pattern and nickel 5 cent collectors. About two dozen are known in nickel of J416/P488 and slightly fewer than a dozen are known as illustrated of J417/P489 in copper.
The J418/P490 uses a heavily polished reverse die such that features in the lettering have been worn away. Breen described this die as an 1868 die. I date it to the 1870s due to the fact that in this overpolished state it was used to strike regular 1870 proof nickels. These are clearly restrikes. Click on the link to learn more.
An incomplete white metal splasher of this obverse, JA1865-1/P3263, is in the collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia as well as white metal splashers of the reverse, JA1865-2/P3269.
Photo courtesy of Superior.