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.
In a series replete with rarities, the 1912-S ranks second in high-grade rarity only to the 1914-S. An ample number of half eagles were produced in San Francisco in 1912, with 392,000 pieces struck. But a large percentage of those produced were dropped into circulation. Evidence of this can be seen from examination of the population data, which shows dozens of pieces certified in the VF-XF grade range. Once the Mint State threshold is passed, however, the availability of 1912-S fives drops precipitously and the price increases rapidly. But it is not the number of circulated coins that makes the 1912-S the stellar condition rarity it is. Rather, it is the overall poor production of almost all known examples that has prevented all but two pieces from reaching the Gem plateau. The gold references that deal with the 1912-S are enough to scare away all but the most diehard collectors. Consider these daunting passages from the updated Akers reference:
'The 1912-S is the worst-produced issue in the entire Indian Half Eagle series. ... virtually all examples display an amorphous mintmark that is little more than a blob of metal. ... usually evidence of die deterioration at the borders on one of both sides. ... The typical example has inferior luster and subdued, granular surfaces. ... Distracting abrasions are the norm. ... lowest eye appeal rating in this series.'
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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