Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty Dollar Octagonal, MS63
    Among the Most Enduring Legacies of the Exposition

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS63 PCGS. Driving west on San Francisco's Marina Boulevard or El Camino Real/Richardson Street towards the Golden Gate Bridge, before crossing the bridge into Sausalito, one passes the Palace of Fine Arts, the only building still standing from the massive Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. The finely styled Palace of Fine Arts, at 3301 Lyon St., has a distinctive octagonal shape to its Greco-Romanesque rotunda, dual columns descending from each of the eight apices, and the entire rotunda fronts a lovely little lagoon reminiscent similar settings in Europe.

    The architect of the Palace of Fine Arts, Bernard R. Maybeck, chose a design intended to reflect a Roman ruin, symbolizing the "mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes." The Palace of Fine Arts, like all the other buildings at the massive Panama-Pacific International Expo, was made for short-term use, built as a wood-framed structure covered with a burlap-fiber mixture known as "staff." Only the original crescent-shaped concrete walls of the museum itself, to protect the valuable artwork displayed, imparted a greater measure of permanence.

    Nonetheless, the Palace of Fine Arts did not wear well, and in 1964 the structures were demolished and reconstructed, duplicating the original Maybeck plans. It is ironic that the most "permanent" symbols to arise from the 1915 exposition are the various gold and silver coinage issues that were minted as part of the gigantic exposition, while no original building remains -- the "mortality of grandeur" indeed.

    And we cannot but appreciate the further irony of the Palace of Fine Arts rotunda reflecting the design of the 1915 fifty dollar octagonal pieces. The octagonal pieces are prized for their unusual design, and the round pieces have the lowest net distribution of any U.S. commemorative coin.

    President Roosevelt visited the Panama Canal only once, in its early stages in 1906, when the project was still in crisis mode, rallying the workers and becoming the first American president to venture overseas while in office. He never revisited the completed Panama Canal, although he is recorded to have attended the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. There is no record of his reaction to the Pan-Pac fifty dollar coins, but we can guess what his reaction might have been: "Bully!"
    The present MS63 fifty dollar octagonal coin is housed in a first-generation holder. Bright orange-gold color complements the excellent luster, although a shallow scuff on the cheek of Minerva and another of the right (facing) wing of the owl account for the 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.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  | PCGS Guarantee of Grade and Authenticity  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2013
    7th-10th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,169

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2018 December 6 - 7 HKINF World Coins Signature Auction - Hong Kong.

    Learn about consigning with us

    The coins arrived today. Thank you very much for the special service. You are one of the reasons Heritage is such a great company to work with. Very Special!
    Vero Beach, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 July 12 - 15 Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando
    2018 July 12 - 15 Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando
    REALIZED $6,040,322
    2018 June 28 - 29 HKINF World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    2018 June 28 - 29 HKINF World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    REALIZED $3,027,497
    2018 June 27 - 29 HKINF World Currency Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    2018 June 27 - 29 HKINF World Currency Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    REALIZED $1,341,736