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Incredible Gem 1915-S Panama-Pacific Octagonal Fifty Dollar Gold

1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS65 NGC. In 1907, the stunning High Relief Saint-Gaudens double eagles made their appearance, an event that saw the first (and only) use of Roman numerals for the date on an American coin intended for circulation. Use of Roman numerals in that fashion has been sporadic in the century since. In 1986, the American Eagle gold bullion series saw a reprise of the system, likely a deliberate homage to the High Relief Saint-Gaudens design (by contrast, the silver American Eagles have used Arabic numerals since the start). This lasted until 1992, when the four sizes of gold American Eagle changed to the standard four-digit system. Only two other American issues, gold like the rest, display their dates differently, MCMXV instead of 1915. These are the Panama-Pacific fifty dollar gold pieces, round and octagonal formats.
The octagonal fifties were popular at the time, though the $100 price meant that their popularity translated into few actual sales. Only 645 pieces found buyers, with the rest of the original mintage of 1,500 pieces consigned to the melting pot. Still, later collectors maintained their enthusiasm for the gargantuan gold coins. Part of the challenge was in finding an unimpaired representative, as many examples were kept as pocket pieces, cleaned, polished, or otherwise ill-treated by the non-numismatists who made up a significant proportion of the buyers, as noted by Bowers in 1991.
This impressively well-preserved example offers no such cause for concern. The peach-tinged yellow-orange surfaces display smooth, subtle luster beneath a hint of haze. The piece is well-defined aside from a touch of softness on the highpoints of the owl, though this appears on most Mint State examples. The surfaces are surprisingly clean, with only a handful of light marks on the portrait and a single nick above the owl's right (facing) talon, none of which jeopardize the grade. Outstanding and eminently appealing. The NGC Census Report lists 40 Gems and nine coins finer, though resubmissions render these numbers inaccurate (4/07).(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# BYHP, PCGS# 7452)

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Auction Dates
May-Jun, 2007
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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