In February of 1873, the San Francisco Branch Mint reportedly struck 700 Seated Liberty dollars, 5,000 Seated Liberty, No Arrows half dollars and 324,000 Seated Liberty half dimes. After all of these years, one of the last great mysteries of numismatics still remains. What happened to those 700 1873-S dollars and 5,000 1873-S No Arrows half dollars?
On Feb. 12, 1873, the Mint Act was passed that, among other effects, would in part mark the end of the silver half dime and standard silver dollar; added weight to the half dollar; and paved the way for the Trade dollar. The legislation took effect on April 1.
For a generation of numismatic researchers it was assumed that all of the 1873-S Seated Liberty dollars and half dollars were melted before they left the San Francisco Mint. However, documents stored at the Federal Archives in San Bruno, Calif., point to a different scenario with regard to the fate of the 700 1873-S Seated Liberty dollars.