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.
While the 1796 With Stars quarter eagle is rarer as a variety, with an estimated mintage of 432 pieces versus 963 coins (both BD-1 and BD-2) for the 1796 No Stars, the With Stars quarter eagle is grouped as a type with the 1797-1807 With Stars issues, making the 1796 With Stars an extremely overlooked issue. But the 1796 No Stars is a nonpareil one-year gold type coin, the first year of issue for what is odds-on the rarest circulating U.S. gold denomination The quarter eagle was of little use in early American commerce, too large for daily transactions and too small for the international commerce that favored the gold half eagle. From 1796 through the end of the Capped Head to Left quarter eagle design in 1834, the Mint produced approximately 64,262 quarter eagles, according to Guide Book figures. During that same time the Mint produced half eagles in the amount of 2,120,543 pieces more or less, or about 33 times the number of half eagles compared to quarter eagles. Some half eagles such as the 1820, with 263,806 pieces coined, had mintages that would represent a healthy emission even for a much-later Liberty Head half eagle--but both the early half eagles and quarter eagles (as well as gold eagles, made only from 1795-1804) were melted on a vast scale in the early 1830s, when there were still perhaps only a few coin collectors in the United States and the melt value of the coins exceeded their face value.
The estimated mintages of the 1796 No Stars and With Stars, 963 and 432 pieces respectively, are just that: estimates, which Walter Breen first propounded based on three delivery warrants. The first warrant, of Sept. 22, 1796, was for just 66 coins, while the second, from Dec. 8, was for 897 coins. The third delivery, made on Jan. 14, 1797, was for 432 coins. Breen lumped the first two deliveries together to come up with a total mintage of 963 No Stars coins--but that is just a guess, one that has been widely adopted, including by the Guide Book of United States Coins.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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