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 Crime of '73, as western mine owners labeled the Mint Act of February 12, 1873, was perhaps the most misguided coinage law in the history of the United States. In a vain effort to goad the American public to accept the metric system, the federal government decided that its silver coins could function as metric weights. Regardless of whether they were incompetent in coinage practices or simply chose to ignore the glaring contradictions of this proposal, Congressmen failed to recognize that coin planchets varied regularly enough to ensure that their use as standard weights was a pointless gesture. Nevertheless, based on this flimsy pretext, Congress increased the weight of the half dollar in early 1873 from 12.44 grams to 12.50 grams. A useless paper complication, the act failed to win popular acceptance from either the Bureau of the Mint or the American public. Since its standard practice was to accept all planchets that weighed within 0.2 grams of the approved weight, the Mint simply continued to use the old pre-1873 planchets without raising objections from the Assay Commission. The average American citizen did not even know about the change and public acceptance of the metric system today is no stronger than it was before the Crime of '73.
Despite its shortcomings at the time, the Mint Act of 1873 has several noteworthy effects as far as modern numismatists are concerned. First, it prompted the Mints to melt large quantities of the No Arrows silver coins dated 1872 and 1873. Second, it created yet another short-lived type within the Seated Liberty dime, quarter, and half dollar series. While most of the 1873-1874 issues are far from rare, their enormous desirability among type collectors will ensure their popularity for decades to come. With this in mind, we urge advanced numismatists to carefully consider the lovely gem specimen that we offer here. Many of the 550 proofs coined after the adoption of the Mint Act of 1873 were included in proof sets that the Mint sold to collectors at the time of issue. Although numerous pieces survive today, many of these have suffered from the crude effects of improper handling and/or surface alteration.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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