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 most comprehensive background to the 1838-39 type is given in Breen's 1988 Encyclopedia, which we quote here in part: 'Verbal orders of President Jefferson had stopped mintage of eagles as of December 31, 1804. But in July 1838, after two different acts altering the weight and fineness standard of U.S. gold coins, the Secretary of Treasury instructed Mint Director Robert Patterson to resume coinage of this denomination at once. Acting Engraver Christian Gobrecht prepared new dies, and on Dec. 6, four 'specimens' (proofs?) went to the Secretary of Treasury, followed by 7,200 business strikes. Gobrecht copied the head of Venus in Benjamin West's recent painting Omnia Vincit Amor, (Love Conquers All) with slightly changed headdress but with the same triple beaded cord on her bun, and the same coronet (here inscribed LIBERTY), this is the same prototype used for the latest style of cents in 1839, differently modified. A very similar obverse design was resurrected in 1839 for pattern half dollars, with the head reversed and the curl on the back of Liberty's neck removed (see Judd-91 to 96 or Pollock 101-108). A slicked-up version of the old John Reich eagle served for reverse, on 1839 'Type I' (Type of 1838) this is called large letters.'
In 1839 the design produced in 1838 was struck again, and later in the year the design was modified to the more familiar Coronet style that was used on tens until 1907. Thus, the year 1839 saw two low mintage design rarities created. The former has in the past been called the '1839 Large Letters' type, while the second issue has been known as the '1839 Small Letters.' These labels have proved inadequate to describe the minute differences in letter sizes used, and in recent years (since the publication of David Akers' reference on eagles) the terms 'Type of '38' and 'Type of '40' have come to be more generally accepted.
The second year of Gobrecht's new design saw 25,801 eagles produced, but only a handful of pieces have been certified in Mint condition with this being the finest known. In this two-year series where an XF or AU coin is a significant offering, the importance of this extraordinary coin cannot be overemphasized to both date and type collectors.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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