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1915-S Pan-Pac Fifty Dollar Round, MS63
Lowest-Distribution Gold Commemorative

1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Round MS63 NGC. CAC. The 1915-S Panama-Pacific coins were, at the time of their striking, the largest gold coins (excepting patterns) ever struck under the auspices of the U.S. Mint -- although many numismatists would argue that their forebears, the 1851-52 Augustus Humbert and U.S. Assay Office fifty dollar coins, were struck in a provisional mint of the United States, also in San Francisco. But the San Francisco Mint of 1915 was no longer provisional, it was a well-established Federal branch mint of some 60-plus years' standing.

The MCMVII High Relief twenty dollar gold coins of the Augustus Saint-Gaudens design are justifiably acknowledged to be among America's most beautiful coinage designs. But some collectors consider this design, executed by sculptor Robert I. Aitken, to equal or exceed that of Saint-Gaudens. The obverse is, of course, occupied by Minerva rather than Liberty, in any case a refreshing change.

Another obvious difference in the two coinage designs is that the fifty dollar gold coins, round or octagonal, are massive. These coins are heavy, with a satisfying heft in the hand that is a function of their face value, proportionally two and one-half times that of a double eagle. These coins are roughly 2.42 ounces of pure gold, whereas a double eagle is 0.9675 ounce.

The round Panama-Pacific fifties have the lowest net distribution, by a country mile, of any coin from the classic commemorative era. A meager 483 pieces were sold, the rest of the original mintage of about 1,500 pieces melted. This MS63 NGC-graded coin with the added CAC sticker displays consistently attractive antique-gold coloration throughout both sides. A couple of minuscule marks on Minerva's cheek and helmet appear to determine the grade but are not in the least overt. This piece is an excellent match for the MS63 NGC-CAC octagonal example also in this Platinum Night session.
From The Fairfax Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# BYHP, PCGS# 7451)

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Auction Dates
April, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 12
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