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.
The 1861 Seated Liberty dollar claims a nominal mintage of 77,500 pieces, but the date is quite challenging for present-day collectors. The 1861 was the first issue of the Civil War era, and distribution patterns changed radically during that period. Until 1861, most silver dollars were used in the China trade, and significant numbers of 1861 dollars undoubtedly found their way to the Orient, as well. However, it seems that most dollars of this date remained in this country, to be melted for bullion used to strike subsidiary coinage. R.W. Julian reports:
'There was very heavy melting of dollars in 1861 for use as bullion in the manufacture of subsidiary silver. In one case there were 40,000 silver dollars melted at Philadelphia. I suspect that a careful investigation of archival material would turn up meltings well in excess of that.'
Whatever the fate of the majority of the 1861 mintage, it is certain that examples in Gem condition are very rare today.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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