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Impressive Octagonal 1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty Dollar Gold

1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal AU58 PCGS. Fully lustrous and brilliant with satiny yellow-gold surfaces and splashes of rose toning on the obverse. Faint traces of friction or rub are evident only on the highest design points, along with a few minor hairlines and abrasions.
The design for the octagonal and round fifty dollar gold coins were essentially identical, although eight dolphins appear in the obverse and reverse margins of the octagonal format coin, the only commemorative ever issued in a shape other than round. The obverse depicts a representation of Minerva wearing a helmet and facing to the left, with the motto IN GOD WE TRUST just above, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around, the denomination FIFTY DOLLARS below, and the date expressed in Roman numerals as MCMXV. The reverse motif depicts an owl perched upon a branch of pine, with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM in the field, and PANAMA-PACIFIC EXPOSITION SAN FRANCISCO around. According to contemporary publicity, the owl was sacred to Minerva.
Two reviews of the design were published by Dave Bowers in his Commemorative Coins of the United States. The first was taken from the 1916 volume of the American Journal of Numismatics, providing a contemporary review: "Without doubt classical subjects commend themselves as appropriate to the few of academic culture and taste, and yet the majority of people, and including, too, the majority of the cultivated, cannot but entertain the feeling that coins specially issued on the occasion celebrating one of the nation's greatest achievements should have borne types having a distinct reference to our national history and national spirit." The second account, written by Cornelius Vermeule in Numismatic Art in America in 1971, represented the modern opinion: "These coins were a tour de force, dated to be sure, but unusual enough in all respects to be worthy of what American numismatic art could achieve when creativity and Mint technique worked in unison."(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# BYHP, PCGS# 7452)

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Auction Dates
September, 2006
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 12
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