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.
Breen notes that the Low Relief Satin proof strikings show no mint frost, no 'cartwheel,' which he describes as 'cold flow radial lines.' He compares these coins to the 1921 satin proofs, and indeed there are many similarities in finish and overall texture between the two coins. He also notes that the rims are built up more strongly than on business strikes, and the inner coronet line is exceptionally strong. Full striking definition is seen on the central hair, full feathers are evident even on the upper wing and breast. The lettering is all noticeably higher contrasted with the fields than on business strikes, and the edges of the letters are more sharply defined.
Predictably, Wayne Miller had several pointed and thought-provoking comments in his 1982 book The Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook (pages 243-244). In his opinion, the Beck-Riethe coin was not a Satin Finish proof. However, the piece in Steve Ivy's Herrman Sale in 1979 was a proof striking. The last paragraph of Miller's entry about this curious proof is quite interesting and we reproduce it here as it compares and contrasts the Satin vs. Matte strikings of this year:
'Although satin finish 1922 proof Peace dollars are much more rare than the matte proof variety, the latter will probably always bring a higher price for the following reasons: First, the matte proof variety has been known and documented for a much longer period of time. Second, the high relief of matte proofs makes them more desirable. Third, the satin finish proofs are not mentioned in official mint reports. They thus lack official sanction. Fourth, since there are only three satin finish proofs known, they lack the exposure necessary to command a price commensurate with their extreme rarity.'
Wayne Miller's above comments should also be placed in the context of the time in which they were written. In 1982, condition was king. It wasn't until several years later that rarity began to replace condition as the primary factor that determined a coin's desirability and price. Additionally, third-party grading was not the market force then that it is today. Which all means that even though the Satin Finish coins are struck in low relief, their absolute rarity offsets this in today's market. Thus, this Satin Finish proof should command a price at auction that is in line with its extreme rarity and Gem condition.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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