One of the more common bullion coins prior to the issuance of government gold bullion was gold Austria Ducats with the date 1915. The coin featuring the bust of King Franz Joseph facing right on the obverse and the arms of Austria on the double-headed Imperial Eagle on the reverse began its production in 1872 and continued until 1915. These coins were originally produced for circulation.
The original 1915 mintage for the coin was over 103,000 pieces, which had no more issues been produced, would have boasted the lowest mintage of the original mintage series. With the outbreak of World War I, no ducat coinage mintages were recorded from 1916 through 1919. Beginning in 1920, 1915-dated 1 Ducats with the same design and metal content began to be produced. Struck in .9860-fine gold with a weight of 3.4909 grams, the actual gold content of each ducat is .1107 ounces.
With the production beginning again in 1920, the frozen date of 1915 continued on the coins being produced. Franz Joseph, who was alive with the production of these ducats for circulation, died in 1916 at the age of 86. Following World War I, the Austrian Empire had collapsed and was under the First Republic time period. With the Austria Ducat being a domestic and international trade unit, more coins were need for the demand. This was especially true within the Balkans which used the gold Austria Ducat as reserves. Therefore, the continuation of the design of the Franz Joseph Ducat continued with all with the date 1915. Beginning in 1920 and continuing until 1936, over 861,000 coins all dated 1915 were produced, indistinguishable from that of the original issue.
In 1937 production of 1915 Ducats halted and with the Anschluss in 1938, no more 1915 Ducats would be produced until 1950, well after World War II. In 1950, production of 1915-dated Ducats started again, this time serving as more of a bullion issue than a production issued for commerce. Since 1950 and continuing today, Austria has produced 1915-dated Ducats with recorded mintages ranging from just a few thousand pieces to millions, all indistinguishable from any other year. The total mintage of coins until 2018 exceeds 53 million pieces and carry the 1915 date.
Another denomination, the 4 Ducat coin, was also produced for circulation between 1872 and 1915, with restrikes being continued in 1920 and forward with the 1915 date just like the ducat. The 4 Ducat is also 0.9860-fine gold with a weight of 13.9636 grams, bringing the actual gold weight to 0.4427 ounce.
One variant occurred in error on the 1915 Restrike 1 Ducat, this being a coin with the date “1951” rather than “1915.” This “1951”-dated piece can exceed $2,000 in auction. Additionally, 1915 Proof 1 and 4 Ducats have been produced. Most of the 1915 1 Ducat and 4 Ducats trade for close to their melt value.
Being just over a one-tenth of an ounce, the 1915 1 Ducat is popular with gold hoarders and investors, making the unit’s value easy to calculate and an internationally recognized unit and that is easy to acquire with a low premium. Likewise, the 1915 4 Ducats are widely available with little premium over the melt value of the coin’s .44-ounce gold content.