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 plunge of civilization into the abyss of blood and darkness...so gives away the whole long age during which we have supposed the world to be...gradually bettering...is too tragic for any words.' Such was the American novelist Henry James' assessment of humanity the day after Great Britain entered World War One. Four years of continuous warfare and staggering casualty figures would only lend credence to James' assessment that the old days of peaceful advancement had given way to a barbarous new era where death and destruction prevailed. Although the United States had remained neutral until 1917, the waves of strikes, bombings, and race riots that swept through postwar America proved that she too had succumbed to the horrors of the Great War. In all its myriad forms, war changes and, indeed, corrupts the nations that it touches. The reality of the Great War, as well as the horrors that it brought, ushered in a new era that challenged the simpler, more honest times of preceding decades. In a vain effort to restore the moral righteousness that once typified American society, many citizens adopted a defensive stance at the end of the 1910s. An excellent example of this reforming mood was the drive for prohibition that reached its pinnacle during and immediately after the First World War. In the name of wartime sacrifice, Congress passed the Eighteenth Amendment on December 18, 1917. After the states ratified the document on January 16, 1919, the manufacture, sale, and/or transport of intoxicating liquors became illegal from January 16, 1920. Later in 1919, the Volstead Act extended this ban by making illegal all beverages that contained more than 0.5 percent alcohol. The era of prohibition was born.
As a reform movement aimed at strengthening America's morals, however, prohibition failed miserably. Instead of curtailing alcoholic consumption, the Volstead Act paved the way for the numerous speakeasies that would become hallmarks of the Roaring Twenties. In addition, violence escalated to previously unheard of heights within American society as gangsters such as Al Capone fought each other and the authorities for control of the lucrative bootlegging enterprise. By 1931, the federal government's failure to enforce prohibition had finally led to the first opposition to the movement, although it would be 1933 before Congress repealed the Volstead Act.
In many ways, United States coinage history of the late 1910s mirrors the ill-fated intent of prohibition. In a vain effort to preserve American morals, Anthony Comstock and the Society for the Suppression of Vice viciously attacked Hermon A. MacNeil's original Standing Liberty quarter design of 1916-1917. While their efforts helped to conceal Liberty's bare breast, the resulting modifications to the dies made the Type Two design a nightmare for the Mints to produce. Accelerated mintage levels of the war years only exacerbated the problems and the majority of Standing Liberty quarters from mid-1917 through 1918 emerged from the presses with poor delineation throughout. Lest the depressed mintage figures of 1919 lead novice numismatists to assume that production quality improved, the Denver Mint's delivery of that year is among the most difficult issues to locate with bold striking characteristics.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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