Proof Shield nickels are generally scarce, with between 600 and 3,000 pieces struck during any given year, with a few exceptions. On the high end of proof production is the 1883 proof Shield nickel, with 5,419 specimens struck. On the low side is the 1867 Rays proof Shield nickel, which saw a mintage of merely 25 pieces.
There are a few interesting notes about proof Shield nickels. The extraordinarily scarce 1867 Without Rays Pattern Reverse Shield nickel is one of the most challenging issues. The 1877 and 1878 are proof-only dates for the Shield nickel and thus trade at much higher levels due to pressure from date-set collectors. Also of note is the scarce 1879/8 proof overdate, though estimates by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) suggest this variety is probably about as common, or only a little less so, than the so-called normal date.