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.
For most collectors the study of early gold is unfamiliar and the acquisition of such pieces is virtually impossible. Most collectors tend to be either generalists or specialists in lower-denomination coins from half cents through silver dollars. But for a few dedicated specialists, early gold has proved to be an especially fertile area of study. Half eagles struck from 1813 through 1834, generally referred to as the Capped Head Left series, may well be the rarest, multiple-year series in U.S. numismatics. An article by Arno Safran in the November 15, 1993 edition of Coin World summed up this and the previous series of five dollar gold pieces and their rarity:
'Half eagles bearing the Scot-modified Capped Head design (1813-29) and the further modified, smaller-size pieces by Kneass (1829-34) are the scarcest types for this denomination. Most of the mintages were either melted by the government or left the country soon after being released into circulation because miscalculations by Treasury officials regarding the ratio between gold and silver were skewed in favor of the yellow metal.?
As a result of the massive meltings, the number minted means very little. What is important is not how many were struck, but how many survived the mass meltings in the 1820s and 1830s.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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