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 Coinage Act of 1873 damned the silver dollar by omission rather than commission, removing it from the list of authorized coinage denominations and effectively denying its legal tender status. Powerful Western silver interests, however, supported the unlimited coinage of silver, and the 'Crime of '73' propelled the formation of the Free Silver movement. Among the factions who aligned to support increased silver coinage were the Western silver mining interests, farmers who hoped that an expanded currency would increase crop prices, and debtors who hoped they could repay their debts in depreciated currency. While anyone could purchase Trade dollars from the Mint by exchanging 378 grains of silver, that amount in 1873 was worth $1.022 in gold. A coining fee was levied in addition, making Trade dollars no bargain. As silver prices continued to trend downward, however, Trade dollars gained in attractiveness to bullion depositors. Others protested the then-overvalued Trade dollars, and in 1876 the Treasury revoked their legal tender status for domestic commerce. Rusty Goe's The Mint on Carson Street continues the story thusly: 'This stripped bullion depositors of their domestic profit-making opportunities, although there were still advantages from exportation. In general, the public was baffled by trade dollars, and exploitation permeated the country. Unwary merchants and consumers were assured by licentious brokers that trade dollars were worth one dollar in gold, or close to it. Then, upon attempting to use them for payment, merchants and retail customers alike were subject to losses due to discounting. Finally, in October of 1877 a proposal was made to discontinue further issuance of trade dollars, but since orders were pending for more trade dollars to be exported to China, the authorization to cease production did not come until February of 1878.
By then the Carson City Mint had manufactured 97,000 1878-CC trade dollars. ...' The 1878-CC issue has the lowest business-strike mintage by a considerable margin in the Trade dollar series, with the 1873-CC second. By 1878, the Free Silver supporters had achieved a major victory in the passage of the Bland-Allison Act, which provided that the Treasury purchase from $2 million to $4 million per month of domestic silver, to be coined into silver dollars of the new Morgan design. The mints in Philadelphia and San Francisco performed yeoman service in each producing about 10 million coins (all varieties), give or take, and even the Carson City Mint manufactured a respectable 2.2 million pieces of the new Morgan design. General confusion and dissatisfaction with the Trade dollar, along with the introduction of the new 'Bland' dollar, doomed the Trade dollar to what now seems a just and well-deserved fate. The last year for business-strike Trade dollars was 1878, although proof coins struggled along for a few more years.
The 1878-CC is a notable rarity in all grades, and is especially challenging in mint condition.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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