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Popular 1915-S Panama-Pacific
Octagonal Fifty, MS63

1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS63 NGC. CAC. Much has been written about the territorial gold predecessor to the Panama-Pacific fifty dollar octagonal issue, the United States Assay Office fifty dollar octagonal, colloquially known as a "slug," and how it was an inspiration for the later issue's different and distinctive shape. Examination of a "slug" and a Panama-Pacific fifty side-by-side, however, reveals an interesting design difference. On the United States Assay Office fifty dollar octagonal pieces, the design is set so that when the obverse is held upright, flat sides are present at the top and bottom.
By contrast, the Panama-Pacific octagonal fifty has points at the top and bottom. Aesthetics likely played a role; the use of points at the cardinal directions gives the overall arrangement a more angular appearance, and since the pieces were commemorative and decorative, not utilitarian, less concern was given to how the coins would be handled.
Unfortunately for posterity, a number of the 645 Panama-Pacific octagonal fifties that escaped the melting pot were handled, often roughly, and many coins experienced wear or other impairments. By that standard, the present Select coin has come through the decades largely scot-free. Though a handful of wispy abrasions in the broad, lustrous yellow-gold fields preclude a finer designation, the sharp strike and rich color of this coin lend it distinctive eye appeal. At the time of their release, these coins' unusual shape led to greater interest in them; now, more than 90 years later, their eight-sided appearance continues to draw collectors. A great example of this issue, a series key along with its round twin.
From The James Mossman Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# BYHP, PCGS# 7452)

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Auction Dates
January, 2009
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