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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.
A transitional year for silver dollars, with two distinct design types produced. Only two die varieties of the Small Eagle dollars have been identified, and each of these is a major variety, distinguished by either 13 stars or 15 stars on the obverse.
The 15 Star obverse has eight stars along the left border and seven stars at the right border, and is considered the first 1798 silver dollar variety produced. The reasoning is sound: the Small Eagle design was discontinued with the new Heraldic Eagle reverse taking its place. This means that the Small Eagle coins were produced at the beginning of the year. Since the obverse of the Small Eagle type with just 13 stars was also used with a Heraldic Eagle reverse, it must have been coined after those with 15 stars.
Just as interesting is the knowledge that this 1798-dated obverse die was actually created a couple years earlier. Since Kentucky became the 15th state in 1792 and Tennessee became the 16th state in June 1796, the die must have been created before that date. In fact, all 1795 and 1796 silver dollars have 15 stars on the obverse, and all 1797 dollars have 16 stars. Finally, in 1798 the decision was made to reduce the star count to 13 stars for the original 13 states. Stylistically, the obverse is similar to some 1796 obverse dies, and was probably made at about the same time, with only the 179 of the date punched in the die.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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