1915 No S Panama Pacific Half Dollar, PR65
1915 P50C No S Panama-Pacific Half Dollar, Judd-1791/1961,
Pollock-2029, High R.7, PR65 NGC. CAC.
Judd-1961, Finest Known Silver Specimen
Design. Both obverse and reverse were coined from the same dies as the regular-issue Panama-Pacific half dollars, but without the S mintmark. Struck in silver, with a reeded edge.
Commentary. The famous 1915 No S Panama-Pacific half dollars were struck at the Philadelphia Mint before the S mintmark was added to the dies, which were then shipped to San Francisco for the production run. Examples are known in copper, silver, and gold. These experimental issues were probably struck as fantasy pieces. Farran Zerbe, who was in charge of the ambitious program to produce sets of five different coins from various denominations to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal, attributed the rare No S patterns to W.G. McAdoo, the contemporary Secretary of the Treasury. Only a handful of examples were struck in silver. Anthony Swiatek reports six examples were struck, and the envelope accompanying the present coin notes five specimens were known when the coin was purchased. However, we can account for only four specimens today. The present coin is the finest known example in silver.
Physical Description. A delightful Gem, with well-detailed design elements and lustrous surfaces that show no mentionable signs of contact. The well-preserved surfaces are blanketed in attractive shades of natural ice-blue, lavender, gray, and golden-brown toning that produce a stunning play of colors. The outstanding visual appeal matches the high technical quality of this very rare 20th century pattern. The last public auction appearance of any example of Judd-1961 was nearly a decade ago, and a comparable example may not become available for many years.
Roster and Provenance for Judd-1961.
1. PR65 NGC. From B.G. Johnson's St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co. inventory, probably from the Armin Brand holdings; purchased by Eric P. Newman, EPNNES; the present coin.
2. PR64 NGC. Abe Kosoff; Saint Louis ANA (New England Rare Coin Auctions, 7/1979), lot 1364, offered with a specimen of Judd-1960 and Judd-1962 in separate lots, realized $15,000; Sound Beach Collection (Heritage, 11/2003), lot 11250, offered with the other coins from the 1979 ANA in separate lots, realized $92,000; Southern collection, Simpson Collection.
3. Eric P. Newman; an example in slightly lower grade, retained by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
4. A specimen recovered in the 1950s as a regular-issue Panama-Pacific half dollar, per Anthony Swiatek. Possibly the coin in lot 1300 of Mail Bid Sale 267 (Hollinbeck-Kagin, 11/1966), under commemorative half dollars: "1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, brilliant bluish unc. SCARCE. Cat. 100.00"
Note: Anthony Swiatek reports as many as six examples of Judd-1961 were struck, but other specimens remain unconfirmed. Many of the patterns in the 1979 ANA sale were from the Dr. James Sloss Collection, which David Akers reported as sold privately in 1974. The three Pan-Pac half dollars may have come from this source, but conclusive evidence is not available at this time.
From The Eric P. Newman Collection. (NGC ID# 2AMG, PCGS# 62265)
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