There are two varieties of proofs for this year, one is well known because it has the 1 in the neck which later becomes the Cherrypicker’s variety listed as FS#3cN-006.5. The other proof does not have the1 in the neck but does display a very noticeable vertical die chip in the middle of the upper cheek.
The first 1875 proof coin that we have for study was sold as a raw MS63 with some edge damage but it really is two corrosion spots removed from the rim. Here is a photo of both sides of this coin. Notice the reverse is rotated clockwise just a little bit.
This proof variety is well known for the business strike listing in the Cherrypickers Guide as FS#3cN-006.5 which has the 1 in the neck. It is not well known that this die started out as a proof die before it struck the well known CPG variety. Shown below is a closeup of the misplaced date in the neck.
This first of two proof varieties of 1875 and is known as the Breen Die #1 in the Proof coin Encyclopedia by him and is listed as P01 in the Ultimate 3cnkl book by Allan Gifford. The date position is lower for this die than the other one and is described in Breen as having the the left base of the 1 over the left side of the denticle below it. Here is a closeup of the date area with lines added down to the denticles.
Then also mentioned in Breen is the fact that the right ribbon end is attenuated, and many outer leaves are almost gone. Here is a closeup showing these leaves.
Being a proof die there are many opportunities to find die markers to help identify this variety on other examples. The other purpose for detailing these markers is to help distinguish this variety from the other die pair for the 1875 proofs. One of the first such markers is a strong diagonal die line in the field to the top left of the N in UNITED.
There are two strong almost parallel die lines down from the chin to the bottom of the U in UNITED and beyond.
These lines, and the one shown above, would probably not remain in later die states for this variety. This could hold true for others of these die markers. So the absence of any of these markers doesnt mean a coin is not this variety but it just may be in a different die state that doesnt show that particular marker.
On the center of the neck a little bit below the chin line is a roughly triangular shaped lump.
Behind the lower lip there are some small lumps.
A common feature found on many 3 Cent Nickels from this period is a curved line on the front of the coronet that looks like a crack. It goes from the bottom left of the I in LIBERTY to almost the front edge of the hair. This feature may be on the master die for this period because it is found on many different dates and die pairs.
Also shown in the picture below is a pair of light die lines that go through the TE in STATES and continue towards Liberty’s head.
There is also a short thick die gouge in the back of the hair between the waves of the hair.
The reverse of this variety shows several noticeable die markers as well. There is what looks like a blobbed, slightly curved crack on top of the left ribbon end and up to the leaf above it.
On the center leaf of the cluster at 8:30 there is a chip in the middle just right of the leaf’s center vein.
There is a bar-shaped die gouge on the lower inside edge of the partial leaf disconnected from the wreath at 3:30.
There is a blob in the center of the leaf at the center of the leaf cluster at 8:30.
Finally, the reverse has many long die lines in the fields. Some of them can be seen going almost horizontally to the right of the right numeral in this picture.
More field lines can easily be seen going down from the upper wreath to the tops of the numerals in this photo below.
In conclusion, although this first die pair of the 1875 Proof is best known for its misplaced date coming out of the neck it is also filled with other die markers to help verify it.
Next we will examine the other die variety of 1875 proofs.
This variety known as Breen Die #2 (P02 in the Ultimate 3cN book) has been identified by recutting at right of the upright of the 5, but this diagnostic is not very useful since that feature is indistinct on most examples seen. Instead it is easier to notice that the date is positioned higher with the top of the 1 obviously close to the bottom of the bust then it is on the other proof variety studied above. But in reality all you need to notice is that there is no 1 sticking out of the neck and you know that you have this proof die.
The coin that we have to study is interesting because it is housed in an ANACS holder that is graded MS60 but it is definitely a proof coin. Here is a picture of the obverse.
The reverse of this coin is rotated clockwise a little bit to about the 12:30 clock position.
Below is a closeup of the date position with lines added to show the positon of each digit in relation to the denticles below them and the tip of the curl above the 5.
Now we will look at the many obverse die markers to be found on this second variety of 1875 proof. In the obverse denticles to the left and right of the date are strong lines showing between the denticles. There is a strong line from the 6:30 to 7:00 position, left of the date, shown here.
Then a line between the denticles from 5-6:00 is shown here.
The most dramatic marking on this variety is a rather large vertical die chip on the cheek between the nostril and the ear.
Below is a closer view of this larger chip on the cheek of Liberty. It is possible in later die states that this feature might be weaker or not there at all, but so far it has been seen on all examples studied.
On the lower neck there is a die chip to the left and a vertical line to the right.
Also on the bust is a strong diagonal line through the back of the band on the hair.
Then lower under the end of the hair band is a short diagonal line.
Right of the beads is a curved line through the hair.
Around the tip of the eyelid there are several diagonal lines that are very noticeable when that are is examined.
Then below the lower lip is a short vertical line and a die chip below.
Under the B in LIBERTY is a short thick line perpendicular to the base of that letter.
Then inside the letters BERTY can be seen several diagonal lines.
The reverse lacks any significant die markers to take pictures of. In another die state, either earlier or later, there may be die markers on this reverse to make note of, but on this example we don’t see any of these markers at this particular stage in the reverse dies life.
This brings up a subject that needs further study. Have the reverse dies of proof three cent nickels been used for only one die pairing during a given year or used in several pairings during any year, or even used again the next year, or more? Only after studying more of the proof varieties and comparing the reverse diagnostics for matches, will we know if the reverses get re-used, or not.
After examining these two 1875 proof varieties it is quite easy to tell the difference between them just by looking for the 1 in the neck. If the 1 in the neck is present then you know you are looking at the first variety, Breen Proof Die #1 or P01. Then of course if the 1 is not present in the neck you know it is the second variety, Breen Proof Die #2 or P02. Then the second variety can quickly be confirmed by noticing the large vertical die chip on the cheek.