1915-S Pan-Pac Octagonal Fifty
1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS61 NGC. The
May 20, 1914, issue of the Canal Record, published weekly in
Ancon, the Panama Canal Zone, carried news that Panama Canal
employees and their relatives in dozens of countries had long
Attractive Mint State Example
Even, Light Reddish-Gold Patina
TEN YEARS OF CANAL WORK
Tenth Year Closes with Practical Completion of
the Canal, and Marks the Beginning of Use
"Ten years of American occupation of the Canal Zone were completed on May 4, 1914, the transfer of Canal property from the second French company to the United States having been effected on May 4, 1904. The three first years of the American occupation were devoted principally to preparation. Excavation in the Culebra Cut section, continued from the first with such equipment as was available, was not well under way on the American plan until the first part of 1907; and the only dredge at work up to May 20, 1907, was the old French ladder dredge Mole, maintaining the channel between the ocean and the steel wharf at Balboa.
"The decade has seen the virtual completion of the Canal, and the beginnings of its commercial and naval use. During the past year, the sealevel channels have been opened to Gatun and Miraflores Locks; Gatun and Miraflores Lakes have been filled to normal height; Culebra Cut has been flooded; all of the locks have been operated repeatedly; and a number of vessels in the Canal service, as well as several rafts of piles under tow, have passed from ocean to ocean through the Canal."
It was another year before the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition could get under way in honor of the Canal completion, billing itself as the "greatest world's fair of all time." The "Panama-Pacific" name itself embodies the dual nature of the historic 1915 observance in San Francisco. "Panama" alludes to the construction of the audacious Panama Canal, but "Pacific" refers more specifically to the Pacific port city of San Francisco, which saw a massive rebuilding from the ruin and ashes in the decade following the catastrophic 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire.
The Panama-Pacific fifty dollar gold coins are arguably the most impressive remembrances today of the massive exposition. Struck nearly a century ago, the two-and-a-half-ounce gold coins featured an unparalleled size and heft that would never again be approached by a U.S. coin in the "classic commemorative" era. The round version featured slightly larger designs, while the octagonal version showed smaller central designs with a bonus -- 16 dolphins frolicking in the vertices of each side.
In spite of the MS61 grade, this piece shows remarkably little evidence of contact on either side. The surfaces are satiny and slightly subdued with even reddish-tinged patina overall. This piece represents excellent value for the collector of commemorative gold coins.
From The Valley View Life Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# BYHP, PCGS# 7452)
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