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 1915 proof half eagle has the lowest mintage of the series with only 75 pieces reportedly struck. It is universally believed to be the rarest date in the series, and there is some archival data to suggest that many 1915s and some unsold 1914s were sent to the Mint's melting pot in January 1917. It is widely believed that somewhere between 12 and 20 proofs survive of this date, numbers most likely based on Akers' report of 21 appearances in auction. However, we believe the actual number of survivors to be somewhere on the order of 25 to 35 coins.
This is the final year of the matte proofing process, a process that was never popular with contemporary collectors, but has stood the test of time and is highly respected today as one of the greatest artistic achievements of the U.S. Mint in the last 150 years. There is no noticeable difference to our eyes in the quality of the matte finish this year as opposed to previous ones (as mentioned in the description of the 1914 above), again, the primary difference being one of color from one year to the next.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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