The NGC Universal ID is a four digit alphanumeric that groups coins based on a unique combination of date, mintmark, denomination and striking process (MS, PF, or SP). These IDs are a simple organization of all coins prior to variety attribution and grading.
In 1855, the San Francisco Mint finally obtained enough parting acids to extract silver from raw gold. This enabled to branch mint to commence production of silver coins, and limited numbers of quarters and half dollars were delivered with arrows at their dates. The following year, the Philadelphia Mint shipped 12 pairs of dies west for production of the 1856-S quarter. These dies omitted the arrows at the date and reverted to the pre-1853 Seated quarter design. Only 286,000 1856-S quarters were produced, and the scarcity of circulating specie in early California meant that most of these coins entered circulation and remained there. Most survivors are well worn and/or impaired, and Briggs (1991) notes that this issue is 'very rare' in Mint State.
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