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.
Armistice Day, November 11, 1918 finally marked the end of World War I. Since 1914, much of America's economy had been bolstered by manufacturing and production for the war effort. Now, due to the slackening need for war related supplies, the economy began to soften as the United States entered a period of isolationism. The Volstead Act (the prohibition of manufacture of alcoholic beverages) was also passed by Congress. Imports and exports of all goods dropped noticeably. As a result, all three operational mints were ordered to produce smaller denomination coinage, Cents, Nickels, Dimes, not Quarters or Half Dollars (no Silver Dollars or gold issues were struck in 1919).
Several years earlier, President Theodore Roosevelt was disgusted with the coin designs in circulation at the time, and made it his mission to have all the coinage redesigned. Roosevelt was especially interested in gold coinage, however his wishes also brought about the Lincoln Cent in 1909, the Buffalo Nickel in 1913, and silver coins all in 1916. Adolph A. Weinman, the designer of the Mercury Dime, also prepared the Half Dollar design. Many consider it one of the most beautiful silver coins ever produced by the U.S. mint and one of the two most beautiful of all coinage designs along with the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle. Later, the government again gave a nod to these designs, choosing each for the American Eagle gold and silver coins introduced in 1986.
At the time, a discussion of this new design appeared in the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint:
The design of the half dollar bears a full length figure of Liberty, the folds of the Stars and Stripes flying to the breeze as a background, progressing in full stride toward the dawn of a new day, carrying the branches of laurel and oak, symbolical of civil and military glory. The hand of the figure is outstretched in bestowal of the spirit of Liberty. The reverse of the half dollar shows an eagle perched high upon a mountain crag, his wings unfolded, fearless in spirit and conscious of his power. Springing from a rift in the rock is a sapling of mountain pine, symbolical of America.
It was this commentary that prompted some to suggest various names for this coin: Liberty Walking, Liberty Striding, Walking Liberty, and Striding Liberty.
Among Half Dollars coined in the 20th century, the 1919 issues remain as some of the (conditionally) rarest. The Denver facility produced just 1.1 million coins, most of these were subsequently well worn from years in the channels of commerce, and during the Great Depression preceding the next World War. It is generally accepted among enthusiasts that the 1919-D is the rarest Walking Liberty Half Dollar at the fully struck Gem level of preservation (Les Fox, 1993).
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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