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 1893 brought several events that ultimately influenced this and related issues. The silver purchase clause of the Act of July 14, 1890 was repealed on November 1, 1893, resulting in a drastically reduced need for silver to be converted into coinage. For the next few years, mintages of silver dollars were substantially smaller than in previous years.
An expanded discussion of the Panic of 1893 provides further background for the scarcity of silver dollars from this year and was provided in the December 31, 2007 issue of Coin World:
'The panic was marked by toppling businesses and failing banks, and the infusion of European investors in American concerns did little to stem the downturn as the depression stretched overseas as well. ... Despite the nationwide loss of more than 4 million jobs, President Grover Cleveland had taken a hands-off approach, believing the struggling business climate was cyclical.
'Cleveland was, however, troubled by the nation's dwindling gold reserves, which had been steadily declining during the waning years of the Benjamin Harrison presidency. 'Cleveland blamed the problems on Congress' lavish spending and the impact of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890. 'The Sherman Act provided the Treasury with the authority:
--To purchase 4.5 million ounces (or 281,250 pounds) of silver each month at market rates.
--To issue notes redeemable in either gold or silver, these are the Treasury notes, also called coin notes. ...
'The planned government purchases amounted to almost the total monthly output from the mines ...
'The increased supply of silver drove down the price of the metal.
'As the price of silver continued to decline, holders of the government notes understandably redeemed them for gold (whose price wasn't falling) rather than silver.
'The result of the growing disparity between the two metals was the depletion of the U.S. gold reserves.'
It was against this monetary backdrop that silver dollars were produced in 1893. The result was predictably low at not only the San Francisco mint, but also the other three mints at Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Carson City. Only 100,000 dollars were struck in the San Francisco facility. All 100,000 pieces were struck from a single die pairing--the most widely known die characteristic being a diagonal die scratch in the top of the T in LIBERTY.
What happened after these coins were produced remains a mystery. Most likely it is a case of heavy attrition. Most of the production run probably met the same fate as many other silver dollars from this era: They were melted under the terms of the 1918 Pittman Act. Of course, as with many other numismatic rarities, there are always stories about rolls and bags. But these have turned out to be nothing more than numismatic 'old-wives' tales.'
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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