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    Description

    1915-S Panama-Pacific Octagonal Fifty, AU58
    The More Popular of the Two Variants

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal AU58 PCGS. The round fifty dollar Panama-Pacific gold coins ended up being the rarer of the two varieties due to its more-familiar design. Most of the few collectors who could pony up $100 for an example preferred the octagonal examples. Those coins had the inner devices slightly reduced to accommodate the eight dolphins frolicking in the corners on each side, symbolizing the continuous water passage enabled by the Panama Canal. The octagonal form, however, also harkened back to an earlier classic of American coinage, the 1851-52 Humbert/U.S. Assay Office of Gold fifty dollar pieces made during the early Gold Rush days, also in San Francisco. (The Pan-Pac half dollar was intended originally to be struck at the actual exposition, but in practice it developed that while medals were struck there, all of the Pan-Pac coinage was struck at the San Francisco Mint.)
    The enabling legislation gave numismatic huckster-entrepreneur Farran Zerbe the right to produce five denominations in all, from the silver half dollar through the two fifty dollar variants. Bowers writes in A Guide Book of United States Commemorative Coins that "the Treasury was to sell the pieces at face value, and the fair (via Zerbe) could charge the public whatever it pleased." Although as many as 3,000 fifty dollar coins were authorized under the enabling legislation, the net distribution via the several possible forms of purchase ended up at only 483 of the round coins and 645 of the octagonals.
    This octagonal piece shows light handling. We would like to think a fairgoer carried it in his pocket during and immediately after the exposition. Each side has pronounced reddish patina and significant amounts of luster remain around the devices. There are no obvious or noticeable abrasions on either side.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# BYHP, PCGS# 7452)

    Weight: 83.59 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2011
    11th-14th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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