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 U.S. Mint was quite late coming to the gold dollar party. The Bechtler family of Rutherford County, North Carolina--capitalizing on the nation's first gold rush nearly two decades before that in California--had produced private gold coinage since 1831, the year of their first gold dollar. The Mint had fiddled with gold dollar patterns as early as 1836. That was the year in which it produced the derivative Judd-67 dollar patterns, based on the Liberty Cap and Rays design of Mexican silver coinage. The same design would be used on Mint medalets produced that same year that commemorate the first U.S. steam-powered coinage.
But it would be another 13 years, until 1849, before the first federal gold dollars were produced. Meanwhile, the young nation had opened branch mints in New Orleans, Dahlonega, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, but only New Orleans struck both gold and silver. The two inland mints struck only small-denomination gold, so it came as no surprise when Charlotte struck gold dollars in the first year of the federal coinage, alongside Dahlonega, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. The Charlotte mintage, however, at 11,634 coins was a pittance compared to the much-larger productions in Philadelphia and New Orleans. The fiddling was not yet completely over, as the design went through several iterations in its first year, and later subtypes would appear in 1854 and 1856. The Open Wreath 1849-C is a fabulous rarity, while the Closed (or Close) Wreath is scarce in all grades and a true rarity in Mint State. The 1849-C Closed Wreath dollars are usually found prooflike, with convex obverse fields that give a bulged look to the coins.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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