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.
Though the Philadelphia Mint struck 35,000 1905-dated Lewis and Clark dollars in addition to assay pieces, that figure has little connection to the issue's availability today, and even the commonly accepted net mintage of 10,000 pieces may be something of an illusion. The 25,000-coin gap was the result of the Philadelphia Mint striking more pieces than were in Farran Zerbe's original order for the issue, in anticipation of future requests. None were made, and so the pieces were melted again, having never left the Mint. Numerous specialists in commemoratives have noted that the 1905 Lewis and Clark coins are scarcer than their 1904 counterparts, and some authorities speculate that Farran Zerbe did not sell the entire group of 10,000 1905-dated examples, but later spent them at face value or redeemed them unofficially, removing them from the pool of survivors.
The Lewis and Clark dollars are well-known for their overall elusiveness, and as grade increases, the challenge associated with the pieces only grows. In his A Guide Book of United States Commemorative Coins, Q. David Bowers writes that ' ... among commemorative gold [dollars], the Lewis and Clark issues of 1904 and 1905 are singularly distinctive for their rarity in higher grades. They are far rarer than any other commemorative gold dollar varieties.'
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