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.
When all three gold denominations of the 1908-S are examined as a group three distinctive traits emerge that are common to all. The five, ten, and twenty dollar coins each have one of the lowest mintages in their respective series, each is among the most attractive and best-produced issues in the series, and each is occasionally available in higher grades. The 1908-S five dollar had a mintage of 82,000 pieces, the lowest of all S-mint five dollar Indians and third lowest in the series, trailing only the 1909-O and the 1911-D. The ten dollar had only 59,850 pieces produced, fourth lowest in that series among regular issues. And the twenty dollar had an impressively low output of only 22,000 coins, the lowest production run among the regular issues in that series. In each case, small hoards set aside at the time of issue account for the availability in high grades of these three denominations. The attractiveness of the 1908-S in all three denominations is primarily from the exceptional mint frost, a trait common to many San Francisco-produced coins. On the gold denominations struck in 1908, attractive color is another plus that adds even more to the superior eye appeal of these coins.
The common trait among each of these three gold coins is the newness and novelty of each design. The quarter eagle and half eagle marked a distinctive break from the Gobrecht-inspired Coronet design that began in the late, and the Longacre design for the double eagle had been in production since 1850. Each of the three new gold designs was a radical departure from its predecessors. Perhaps the most radical and innovative were the quarter eagles and half eagles, designed by Bela Lyon Pratt. These coins featured a naturalistic portrait of a Native American, rather than the 19th century stylized portrait, and the coins were struck in sunken relief. This unfamiliar naturalism and the novel sunken relief were reason enough for both collectors and the general public to set aside these special coins, especially in 1908, the first year of issue.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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