Low Mintage, Final Year 1915 Gem Matte Proof Twenty1915 $20 PR65 NGC. The 1915 proof twenty was a milestone in the series of sandblast (matte) proof twenties for two reasons. The mintage was a mere 50 pieces, lowest in the series, and it was the final year of issue for this special finish on U.S. gold coinage. The minuscule mintage probably represented the core number of collectors in the country who would purchase a proof twenty for their collection each year, regardless of the method of manufacture. The last time only 50 proof double eagles were produced was in 1894. The years between then and the end of the Coronet series in 1907 ranged from 50 pieces up to a high of 158 proofs in 1903. The new dime, quarter, and half dollar that went into production in 1916 had different field curvature and unevenness, similar to the twenty dollar coins, and accordingly were unsuited for traditional brilliant proofing methods. Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Adam Joyce pointed this out in a letter to Mint Director F.J.H. von Engelken on October 17, 1916:
" ... the only difference between the proofs and the regular [nickel and silver] coins being the sharper edge and design. ... In order to distinguish gold proofs from the regular issue, it has been necessary to give them a sandblast finish, which changes the appearance of the coins to such an extent that it is almost impossible to put them in circulation. This is something I am not sure we have a right to do."
When those reasons were coupled with the additional paperwork and lost revenue producing each proof coin, von Engelken discontinued the manufacture of proof coinage the following day.
NGC and PCGS combined have certified only 51 proof 1915 twenties. Most known examples cluster tightly in the PR64-PR65 range, with few higher or lower. We estimate that probably no more than 30 individual pieces exist today in all grades. This year has the same coarse finish as seen on the 1914 twenties. The surfaces are usually darker than on 1911-1913 coins. Nevertheless, magnification shows bright, sparkling individual facets on each side. This PR65 example displays the expected coarser texture, as seen on the 1914 in the Ferrari Collection. The color is just slightly more yellow than the 1914, however. A couple of shiny spots are seen over the high points of the design, and the only contact marks (tiny ones at that) are widely scattered over the reverse.
From The Ralph P. Muller Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 26H4, PCGS# 9212)
Weight: 33.44 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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