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 half eagles of 1798, befitting their utilitarian status in the United States' burgeoning economy of the era, are known in several different die varieties. The estimated mintage of 1798 half eagles is nearly 25,000 coins--a considerable number that understandably required multiple dies to accomplish the full production.
The transition from Small Eagle to Heraldic Eagle reverses on U.S. coinage began in 1796, and by 1798 most coins bore the Large or Heraldic Eagle reverse. (The 1795 and 1797/5 Heraldic Eagle fives are believed to have been struck in 1798.) The Small Eagle fives dated 1798 (BD-1) are great rarities, only seven examples are known of the single variety. The 1798 Heraldic Eagle fives are found in seven different Bass-Dannreuther varieties, most of them single pairings, with only the BD Obverse 2 used twice (for BD-3 and BD-4). The BD-2 variety is popular because its Obverse 1 was first used to make the BD-1 Small Eagle pairing, then remated with Reverse A for the 1798 Large Eagle. The BD-2 through BD-5 marriages are called Large 8, for their larger 8's in the obverse date (three different dies). BD-6 through BD-8 are called Small 8 in the Guide Book, but Bass-Dannreuther call them Normal 8. (The Guide Book lists three subtypes for the Large Eagle reverses: Small 8, and Large 8 with 13 Star Reverse or 14 Star Reverse.)
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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