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 1940s marked the fourth decade during which Liberty would stride powerfully across the obverse of our half dollar. First placed in circulation in 1916, Adolf Alexander Weinman's bold design was suitably timed to meet the external threats that faced the United States. Although still technically neutral, the United States was preoccupied with World War I and our seeming inability to steer clear of the fighting. Anticipating our involvement by only a year, Liberty walks east toward wartorn Europe and carries a bundle of oak and laurel branches that symbolize American military prowess and serve as a warning to the Central Powers. With her arm outstretched, she is ready to shield our men from German warplanes when the time comes for them to take their place in the trenches of the western front. The reverse eagle, equally ready for a brawl, has finally rid himself of the cumbersome shield that has burdened his breast without respite since 1801. Having served the United States well during the First World War, by 1941 this bold motif was equally well prepared to take us through the second. With the same steadfastness as in 1916, Liberty appears ready to trample the rising sun, the symbol of the Japanese military machine. The sapling of mountain pine on the reverse aptly represents America's hardiness--a hardiness that would take us through the bitter defeats of late 1941 and early 1942 to the glorious victories of 1943-1945. The price of ultimate victory, like the price of aesthetic beauty represented by the Walking Liberty half dollar, would be a heavy one. Alongside the thousands of Americans who endured the hardships of war, countless Walking Liberty half dollars from the 1940s suffered the ravages of poor strikes that resulted from their unusually heavy level of wartime production. Perhaps indicative of its proximity to the disaster of Pearl Harbor, the San Francisco Mint had the most difficulty striking this denomination from 1941 through 1945. While the five issues encompassed in this time frame all exhibit their fair share of poor strikes, the lower mintage 1941-S has always stood out as the key issue of the Second World War. Although surprisingly plentiful through the gem grade tiers, the poor impression that most Mint State survivors of this issue exhibit disqualifies them from an MS 67 designation.
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