1915-S Octagonal Pan-Pac Fifty, MS64
1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS64 NGC. CAC.
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco was
not the only major California fair to celebrate the opening of the
Panama Canal in 1915. The story of a rival event, the
Panama-California Exposition held in San Diego, brings to mind an
apocryphal Mark Twain quote: "History does not repeat itself, but
it does rhyme."
Only 645 Pieces Distributed
While many present-day observers believe the Panama-Pacific International Exposition's name was a fig-leaf for San Francisco's actual ambition to show its recovery from the devastating 1906 earthquake, San Diego, being the closest (by sea) major California city to the Panama Canal, was more directly connected to its Latin American namesake. Even so, the federal government's support went to San Francisco, leaving city and state to cover the costs of San Diego's Panama-California Exposition.
Like many expositions of the time, the Panama-California constructed many temporary buildings, but a few were permanent. Among them were the California Building and accompanying California Tower, key parts of the architectural layout for a 1935 fair, the California Pacific International Exposition, held at the same site. The commemorative coins for that event, more popularly known as the "San Diego" half dollars, show the two buildings on the reverse and so pay indirect tribute to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition's rival.
In the commemorative coin sense, of course, San Francisco trumps San Diego. The Panama-Pacific International Exposition not only had silver half dollars struck for sale but also gold dollars, quarter eagles, and most famously of all the fifty dollar gold coins in round and octagonal formats. As most collectors are aware, the Round fifties are scarcer but the Octagonals are more popular because of their distinctive shape. This is an impressive near-Gem, underscored by the CAC sticker, that displays rich reddish-tinted surfaces and bright, underlying satinlike mint luster. Magnification will be required to find any contact marks.(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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