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 movement of the mintmark from the obverse to the reverse of the Walking Liberty half was apparently recommended by Mint Director F.J.H. von Engelken as a matter of personal objection. Curiously, it was not until after von Engelken left the Mint that the mintmark change was ordered and completed. According to a Coin World article, Mint Superintendent Adam Joyce wrote to the new Mint director about the mintmark change on April 6, 1917:
'In looking over our files, I find that former Director von Engelken failed to confirm his verbal instructions with regard to the change in the position of the of the mint mark on the new design half dollar. I would therefore thank you to have this confirmation sent me, as of February 14th.'
It had been von Engelken's belief that the mintmark was too prominently placed on the obverse and appeared like a die defect. The change was swiftly completed, but not before one lot of dies had been made to the San Francisco facility with the obverse mintmark. A massive 5.55 million pieces were struck with the new reverse mintmark dies, but few were set aside. Most survivors are circulated and even low-end Uncirculated coins are difficult to locate.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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