1915-S Octagonal Panama-Pacific Fifty, MS62
1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS62 PCGS. An
act of January 16, 1915, provided for the coinage of four special
commemoratives to be issued in conjunction with the Panama-Pacific
International Exposition, held in San Francisco the same year.
Among them was an authorized production of 3,000 fifty dollar gold
pieces, each weighing nearly three ounces. As noted in the Annual
Report of the Director of the Mint, the act further provided "that
one-half of the $50 gold pieces struck 'shall be similar in shape
to the octagonal $50 gold pieces issued in California in
Modeled After the Gold Rush-Era 'Slugs'
The Gold Rush-era "slugs" referred to were the United States Assay Office fifty dollar gold pieces struck under contract with Moffat & Company, with Augustus Humbert serving as Assayer. The official terminology for these hefty issues was "ingots," and they were critical to an operational banking system and economy in California during the early 1850s, when large amounts of gold ore were being deposited from the mines with no federal mint to convert them into standard coin.
The San Francisco Mint was put into operation in 1854, occupying the same physical facility that had been the home of the U.S. Assay Office from 1851 through 1853. The fifty dollar ingots were replaced by federal eagles and double eagles, and many of the octagonal fifties in circulation were melted down and recoined. More than six decades later, on the occasion of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, dies were shipped to the San Francisco Mint to once more strike octagonal fifty dollar gold pieces.
The first of the Pan-Pac commemoratives were delivered on May 28th, 1915, and by the end of the fiscal year (June 30th), 609 fifty dollar Pan-Pacs had been coined -- all of the octagonal variety. Total production for the octagonal variety eventually reached 1,509 coins, including assay pieces. However, an advertised purchase price that was as hefty as the coins (twice face value) stunted sales, and only 645 of the new "slugs" were distributed. Today, the octagonal Panama-Pacific fifty dollar commemorative and its equally impressive round counterpart are the keys to the classic commemorative series.
This piece displays sharply struck design elements and original tangerine-gold mint luster. The reverse is particularly luminous, while the obverse shows a few faint slide marks on Minerva's portrait that define the MS62 designation. This is a smooth, problem-free example that is far more attractive than usual for this collectible Mint State grade.(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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