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 year is 1846. Mormon pioneers begin their trek West from Illinois toward 'Deseret,' present-day Salt Lake City. Californians, Nuevo Mexicans, and Texians are in conflict with Mexico over various issues, leading to the the Bear Flag Revolt and the Mexican-American War. U.S. President James K. Polk addresses Congress concerning the tension with Mexico, while General Zachary Taylor leads American troops in Texas. The 1846-48 war ultimately leads to the Mexican loss of Alta California and Nuevo Mexico. (The United States has already annexed Texas, in 1845.)
At the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, the concentration is on minor coinage and the utilitarian half eagle. The Philadelphia Mint strikes some 4.12 million large cents in the year, along with more than a half-million Liberty Seated quarters and 2.2 million Seated halves. For 1846 half eagles, the mintage is nearly 400,000 coins--a total that exceeds the combined gold coinage totals for all other mints and denominations for the year.
Astute numismatists will note that the year is actually a portrait of a 'typical' year from the pre-1857 era in U.S. numismatics. The copper large cent, silver half dollar, and gold half eagle are the workhorses of early U.S. commerce, produced in much greater numbers than their cousins in other denominations.
So it is that the Philadelphia Mint produced only a meager 20,095 business strikes of the 1846 Liberty Head eagle.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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