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    Description

    1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty, MS62
    Venerable Octagonal Issue
    645 Pieces Distributed

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS62 NGC. CAC. The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was held in San Francisco in 1915 to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean. The fair was held on 635 acres of Golden Gate Park and an estimated 19 million people attended during its run from February 20 to December 4, 1915. Prominent coin dealer Farran Zerbe conceived of an unprecedented program of five commemorative coins to be sold at the exposition, a silver half dollar, a gold dollar, a gold quarter eagle, and two fifty dollar gold pieces, one round and one octagonal.

    Both the octagonal and round fifty dollar gold pieces were designed by New York artist Robert Aitken. Both coins featured the same basic design, with the goddess Minerva in a circle on the obverse with the date in Roman numerals and the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. Around the circle, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above, and FIFTY DOLLARS below. The reverse featured an owl standing on a branch of western pine, in a circle with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. Outside the circle were the legends PANAMA-PACIFIC EXPOSITION above and SAN FRANCISCO below. The octagonal shape of the fifty dollar piece was meant to remind viewers of the old fifty dollar slugs issued in the glory days of the Gold Rush era. Congress approved the striking of 3,000 fifty dollar pieces, evenly split between round and octagonal formats. Zerbe offered the fifty dollar pieces at $100 each.

    Unfortunately, the high price of the coins limited sales considerably and only 645 examples of the octagonal design were sold. The remainder of the mintage was later melted. This low distribution total makes the 1915-S Panama Pacific octagonal fifty dollar gold piece an elusive issue today, even though most of the coins issued are still extant.

    The present coin is an attractive MS62 specimen, with bright lemon-yellow surfaces that show the minimum number of minor contact marks for the grade. The design elements are well-detailed, with just a touch of the usual softness on the central reverse. The fields exhibit the slight orange-peel texture often seen on gold proofs of the 19th century. Overall eye appeal is outstanding for this historic gold commemorative.(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 Dates
    September, 2015
    17th-20th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
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