The 1877 Shield Nickel and 1878 Shield Nickel were only produced in proof format, since circulation strikes were not needed for these years. For the first time since specie payments were suspended by the government in 1861, silver coins were circulating again. As a result, long retained coins reentered circulation and new coins were not needed. Mintages for new coins were virtually non-existent during those years.
The Mint still produced a limited number of proof coins for collectors. The 1877 Proof Shield Nickel had an estimated mintage of 510 coins, making it the second lowest mintage for proof shield nickels. The estimated mintage of the 1878 Proof Shield Nickel was 2,350 coins. This was one of the higher mintages for a proof coin, but the value of the coin carries a premium above other proof years for the series.