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Near-Gem 1915-S Octagonal Pan-Pac Fifty Dollar
Delicately Toned Surfaces

1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS64 NGC. The 1915-S Panama-Pacific fifty dollar gold coins, struck in round and octagonal versions, were a dual commemoration. They fêted the 1914 completion of the colossal Panama Canal and the importance of the Pacific Ocean to American and world commerce, but they also served as a quadrennial observance of the epic crossing of the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513 by the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, becoming the first European to discover that mighty body of water.

For many collectors' tastes, the 1915-S fifty dollar gold coins are every bit as appealing and enticing as the MCMVII High Relief pieces -- and more so for some. While the High Reliefs perhaps win the prize for aesthetics, the Pan-Pacs win the prize for the simple novelty of the Robert I. Aitken design (in the good sense of classic numismatic art) as well as their sheer massivity, weighing 2.5 times that of a High Relief. They depict Minerva (Athena) on their obverse rather than Liberty (with optional swimming dolphins in the corners of the octagonal), and the reverse design featuring an owl and California pine cones -- the weaving spider and its web were removed at the draft stage -- is a welcome departure from "yet another eagle," no matter how beautifully rendered.

Many collectors express particular enthusiasm for the unusual octagonal gold coins, although the round 1915-S fifties have the lowest net distribution of any classic commemorative coin. Both types are classic American collectibles, among the most popular in the entire U.S. series. This is a particularly nice example. The surfaces display delicate shadings of lilac and golden-orange. There are a few light, grade-limiting scuffs in the center of each side, but this coin certainly presents well.
From The Fenn Family Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# BYHP, PCGS# 7452)

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Auction Dates
February, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
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