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.
There are certainly less than 10 true Mint State examples of this issue still in existence today. In all grades, the total estimated population is only 40 to 45 coins from a mintage generally believed to be 432 coins.
The Mint Act of 1792 authorized all of the gold and silver coins that would eventually be struck by the young Philadelphia Mint. After property was acquired, construction of the actual buildings was completed, and all was ready to produced the Nation's first coinage, copper, silver, and gold. Despite completion of the physical components and acquisition of the necessary equipment, coinage of gold and silver could still not be accomplished as the bonding requirement for key employees was too strict. These employees were unable to meet the original requirement of $10,000 bond to insure against possible loss.
Rittenhouse approached Congress with a request to reduce this amount, which they eventually did. The new requirement was $5,000 bond, a more reasonable figure for the time. It was understood that steps would be put in place for these bonded employees to only have access to a limited amount of gold and silver at any one time, further reducing the risk to the government. Finally, all was set for production of precious metals coinage. Silver dollars and half dollars were coined for the first time late in 1794, followed by other silver denominations. Half eagles and eagles came next, with the first gold coins struck in July 1795, and finally the quarter eagles were produced beginning in September 1796 with the No Stars issue. Even after all was set for production of gold coins, few quarter eagles were produced. The denomination of choice for depositors were the larger half eagles and eagles. The Design Creation of the early quarter eagle design is generally attributed to Robert Scot, the first Chief Engraver of the Philadelphia Mint.
A bust of Liberty faces right, draped and capped, with the 1796 date below and LIBERTY above. A total of 16 stars are arranged with eight to the left and eight to the right, each oriented point-to-point. Only a few early U.S. coins have stars oriented in this manner as the usual orientation has a single point toward the border.
The reverse has a large, Heraldic eagle patterned after the Great Seal of the United States. A ribbon in the eagle's beak extends left and right, bearing the inscription E PLURIBUS UNUM. The eagle holds a bundle of arrows (eight are visible) in its dexter claw and an olive branch in its sinister claw. A shield on the eagle's breast consists of eight vertical stripes and nine horizontal crossbars. Above the eagle's head is a row of clouds (seven or eight, depending on the viewer's perspective) and 16 stars in a seemingly random placement. The statutory legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA follows the border clockwise, from 7:30 to 5:30. Individual Die Characteristics Notable features of this die pair include the digit 6 overlapping the bottom edge of the drapery on the obverse and the raised die file lines through TATE on the reverse. The 8x8 star arrangement on the obverse is somewhat inconsistent with a wide space between star 1 and the hair curl, enough to permit a ninth star on the left, which would have eliminated the crowded appearance of the stars on the right.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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