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 Philadelphia Mint delivered two 1861-dated obverse dies to the San Francisco Mint in November 1860, followed by a third in June of the following year. Mated with leftover reverse dies, these obverses produced a mere 18,000 1861-S Half Eagles. Since this was a workhorse issue, like most S-mint gold coins from this era, it should come as no surprise that the typically offered grade among survivors is only VF or XF.
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