The 1815 Capped Bust Half Eagle has the lowest mintage of the series at a mere 635 pieces. This also represents one of the lowest mintages ever for a United States coin struck for general circulation.
The entire mintage was released by the Mint in a single batch on November 3, 1815. There are currently eleven individual pieces positively identified, with a few more pieces only rumored to exist. All known examples are struck from a single die pair.
Of the known specimens, five a re permanently impounded in museum collections, leaving a supply of only six coins for the public market. Needless to say, any offering of this issue is a major event which is only repeated once every decade or so. Recently, an example graded NGC MS 64 sold for $460,000 including buyer’s premium at an auction held in January 2009.
For much of the 19th century, this issue was viewed as the most famous and important rarity of all American gold coinage. Although the issue is still counted amongst the great rarities, other issues have emerged with an even lower number of surviving specimens despite higher mintages. This was the result of massive gold melts of the 1820’s which had permanently eliminated vast portions of the original mintages for some issues.