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 1801 eagle is perhaps the most available date of all Heraldic Eagle ten dollar pieces, which were only minted from 1797 until 1804. However, the term 'most available' does not mean common by any means, as every date in this short-lived series suffers from an uncommonly low survival rate. Although the opinions of noted researchers vary on the estimated rate of survival, it is in all likelihood less than 3% of the original cumulative mintage of the type. In his Complete Encyclopedia, Walter Breen writes: 'On December 31, 1804, coinage of this denomination halted, pursuant to verbal orders from President Thomas Jefferson. The reason was extensive melting [sic] by bullion dealers ... .' The fact that U.S. gold coinage, until 1834, was valued at a slight premium over silver coinage provided a financial incentive for bullion dealers to export the gold coins overseas, where they were predictably melted.
Of the early gold eagles that survived the melting pots, most were saved as curiosities and family heirlooms by non-collectors, which would explain why so many existing examples are cleaned, damaged, or otherwise impaired. Locating an original example in any grade is difficult, but finding an original Heraldic Eagle ten in Mint State presents a formidable challenge. The 1801 eagle has the highest recorded mintage of the series, with a total delivery of 44,344 pieces between 1801 and 1802.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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