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 Draped bust Small Eagle half dollar of 1796-1797 saw a paltry mintage of 3,918 pieces, making it one of the rarest of U.S. type coins. This low production figure can be attributed to several factors, the most important of which may have been that most bullion depositors wanted dollars for their silver, not half dollars or smaller denomination coins. Second, an illegal silver standard of 0.900 fine in effect for 1794-1795 coinage instead of the 0.8924+ prescribed by the Mint Act of 1792 discouraged merchants and bankers from bringing silver bullion to the Mint for coinage into any denomination (see Don Taxay, U.S. Mint and Coinage, p. 89, for a discussion of the effect this illegal standard had on the dollar amount depositors received for their silver). Third, a yellow fever epidemic forced the closing of the mint from late August to late November 1797. Finally, the years 1794 and 1795 saw a relatively hefty production of more than 300,000 half dollars of the Flowing Hair design type.
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