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 Philadelphia Mint was far from averse to tinkering with the appearance of proof gold coinage during the 1908-15 era, so that many proof gold coins have slightly (or noticeably) different surface appearances from one year to the next, as well as over the lifespan of a particular series. The Indian Head quarter eagles, half eagles, and eagles showed radically different treatments from the typically brilliant proof surfaces previously seen on the Liberty Head proof gold coin series. While the proof half eagles of 1912 and 1913 showed a fine sandblast appearance, in 1914 the Mint slightly increased the size of the microscopic tiny facets, giving the coins a somewhat coarser surface appearance. Although the recorded mintage is 125 pieces, this issue is among the most difficult Indian Head half eagle proofs to obtain, exceeded only by the 1915 and 1909 issues.
It is difficult to explain the low survival rate of the 1914 issues. However, one must consider that Europe was on the verge of war during much of 1914, before open hostilities broke out in July and August. The United States declared its neutrality and strove to preserve it from 1914 until 1917. In such an unsure political environment, it is easy to see how a number of proof gold pieces might have entered circulation rather than being held for future generations.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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