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    1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty Dollar, MS63
    Octagonal Variant

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS63 NGC. The 1915 Panama-Pacific fifty dollar gold coins are widely praised for their artistry, but they received a degree of criticism following their production and release. In 1916, the American Journal of Numismatics published an overview of the coins and medals produced in the United States during the previous year. The author, using the pseudonym T.L.C., described Robert Aitken's Pan-Pac designs as "questionable," expounding:

    "... the artist had really two important American events to draw upon and a coin with an unusually large field in which to elaborate a composition. But the types of the coin reveal no American influence, the subjects being as appropriate for any other country and event as for California or the United States of America and the completion of the Panama Canal. The criticism often heard, that 'there is nothing American about the coin except the inscription' is fully warranted."

    The author deemed the use of classical symbolism "commonplace" and "a weakness of which the art is happily working free." One cannot help but wonder what he thought of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' ten and twenty dollar gold coins issued eight years prior. Those coins, like Robert Aitken's, drew heavily on classical imagery for inspiration and were lauded as two of the greatest coinage designs ever issued in this country. Despite Aitkens' contemporary detractors, numismatists and art historians now regard the Pan-Pac fifty dollar slugs as a high-water mark in numismatic design.

    Sales of the Octagonal fifty dollar coins exceeded Round coin sales during the exposition. Of the 1,509 Octagonal examples struck, 645 pieces were sold to fair-goers for $100 apiece. Only 483 Round coins were distributed. The Octagonal coins' novel design, reminiscent of California's storied Gold Rush, undoubtedly contributed to their popularity. Additionally, the Octagonal slugs depict added dolphins around the margins, symbolizing the new "uninterrupted water route made possible by the Panama Canal." For the same historic and design reasons collectors sought out the Octagonal fifties a hundred years ago, collectors continue to seek out examples today in all grades. This is a wonderfully preserved example and an excellent value for the grade. Only the faintest scuffs can be seen with the aid of a loupe, and are invisible without one, making this piece even finer than its technical grade. The bright satiny luster displays even reddish-gold color across each 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 Dates
    June, 2016
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,270

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