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 special nature of Roman Finish gold is not generally appreciated by collectors. When the Mint switched from the traditional brilliant finish to the matte finish in 1908, it was a rough transition. Apparently collectors were caught by surprise when the switchover occurred. Their general displeasure is best seen by the numbers minted in the two years: 167 proofs in 1908 vs. 78 in 1909. Collectors were not silent about their displeasure either. Editorials appeared in The Numismatist and a resolution was sent by the ANA Board to the Mint in 1908.
The Mint attempted to placate collectors by altering the finish in 1909 and subsequently in 1910. The finish on these pieces lacked the sandblasting seen in 1908. Rather, the coins were struck from special blanks and special dies, but there was no post-striking treatment. The result was a 'bright' proof, as Mint personnel termed it.
This new finish was not appreciated by collectors either. In fact, it was disliked even more than the previous matte finish, particularly because the coins were not easily distinguishable from circulation strikes. This negative reaction had Mint officials jumping through hoops once again, and in 1911 they reverted to the matte finish. But for two years, proof gold was struck with this special process, so minimal it was almost a non-process. Special blanks and special dies created bright, shimmering coins. To the untrained eye, they do appear superficially like circulation strikes--except for the razor-sharp definition and uniformly bright surfaces.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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