The first 1883 issue of the Liberty "V" Nickel didn't have cents. This design without a denomination designation, and with the obverse resembling the gold coin issues of the time, some individuals gold plated this "cent-less" 1883 to pass it off as a gold coin. As a result the CENTS where added to the reverse.
Little has been written about the 1886 nickel and its rarity, residing as it does in the shadow of the much better-known 1885. Both are key issues, along with the 1912-S, and the best reason we have for the rarity of the 1886 is taken from what we know about the scarcity of the 1885 and extending the logic one more year. In a 2003 Coin World article by Bob Julian, he states:
"Coinage continued at a heavy pace throughout the rest of 1883 and well into 1885. However, in March 1885 the Treasury suspended nickel coinage because large numbers were flowing into the Subtreasuries and very few pieces leaving. This was the same situation as had prevailed from 1876 through 1881. For this reason, the 1885 nickel is the most difficult date of this series to acquire."
Even though mintage picked up in 1886, it was not impressively so in the context of the series. Only 3.3 million pieces were coined in that year, versus the tiny 1.4 million in 1885. Few were saved, and the 1886 has slowly acquired the status of a key date even though it is chronologically closest to the #1 key in the series.
Designer: Charles E. Barber
Diameter: 21.2 millimeters
Copper - 75%
Nickel - 25%
Weight: 5 grams
Mint mark: None (for Philadelphia) on the reverse below the button to the left of CENTS, and S for San Francisco Mint and is only on 1912 and D for Denver Mint and only on the 1912 and is a key date of the series.