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 1888 is one of many issues within the three dollar series with enticingly low mintages. Only 5,000 pieces were struck, which, if put into perspective, is only 5% of the mintage of the 1893-S dollar. It is true that the 1888 circulated little, since survivors are more often found in Mint State than in worn condition. It is also true that the majority of the issue has likely been melted, since the combined NGC and PCGS population is less than 1,000 pieces, which undoubtedly includes a large number of resubmissions over the past twenty years. The MS62 to MS64 grades account for a sizeable portion of Uncirculated 1888 examples. Gems are scarce, and Premium Gems are rare. Speculators often gravitate toward the 1888 because of its low mintage, which is only about 6% of the 1878 type coin. Yet the 1888 trades for only a small premium above type prices. Shrewd gold type collectors often select the 1888, since it provides greater value than the 'common' 1878.
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