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.
Although the mintage of proof 1903 double eagles is given as 158 coins--the highest of the Liberty Head series--this is a case where original mintage figures are meaningless. Most of those original proofs have long since disappeared. To survive to the present day, a proof 1903 Liberty twenty had to endure the Panic of 1907, World War I, the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the Great Depression, the Gold Recall of 1933--and any number of the unknown personal catastrophes that befall collectors from time to time. In addition, it had to be carefully stored, to prevent the value-destroying contact marks to which large proof gold coins are especially prone. (Some impaired proofs survive, including one graded PR50.) Estimates are that today, only 40 to 50 proof examples survive in all grades.
More important than estimating survivors is a comment that Garrett and Guth offer in their gold Encyclopedia concerning the 1903 proof twenty:
'In recent years the demand for examples of the [Liberty Head] type in Proof has increased dramatically. The supply will most likely never meet the demand for these large, impressive coins.'
There is a reason for that huge demand, beside the unceasing hot market for gold overall: The Liberty Head coins in proof format are the last of the nation's 'traditional' mirrored gold proof coinage, desirable and ultimately pleasing collector-grade examples of the largest gold denomination.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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