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 Mint's official 1857 Annual Report and the Guide Book both list the mintage of the 1857 Seated Liberty dollar as 94,000 pieces, research by R.W. Julian indicates a delivery of 490 pieces on May 29, 1857 was mistakenly omitted from the total. Q. David Bowers speculates the small delivery may have been a special striking for unknown purposes. Because the silver dollar contained a $1.046 melt-down value in silver, the coins rarely circulated domestically. Most examples were used in the China trade, and ultimately melted in the Orient, with the result that the issue is much rarer than generally supposed today. Bowers estimates a few hundred coins may still exist in circulated grades, with Mint State examples 'quite rare.'
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