1915-S Panama-Pacific Octagonal Fifty Dollar, MS64
1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS64 NGC.
Mount Rushmore, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, enshrines four
great American presidents' profiles in granite: George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. One might
wonder, though, if President Roosevelt belongs in the same august
company as the other three. Washington and Jefferson helped forge a
new nation from a former British colony, and Lincoln helped
preserve the Union during the disastrous, divisive Civil War.
Top-Notch Collector Appeal
Teddy Roosevelt, however, is perhaps a more problematic case. It is likely that many Americans could not pinpoint a major achievement of his administration, but the fact remains that, more than any other American president, Teddy Roosevelt presided over America's transformation into a global, oceangoing superpower. (Roosevelt, a lifelong student of naval history, served as assistant secretary of the Navy under President William McKinley, resigning from that post to form the fabled Rough Riders, heroes of the Spanish-American War of 1898.) The winning of the Spanish-American war was a part of that transformation, ending Spanish colonial rule in the Americas, but even more important to America's future, and to its present status, was the completion of the Panama Canal.
Roosevelt's connection with the Augustus Saint-Gaudens gold coinage designs has been well and thoroughly discussed. He had no known direct relation with the designs of the Panama-Pacific coinage; Woodrow Wilson was president when the new pieces debuted, and in any case, a great new war was brewing in Europe.
While the Saint-Gaudens gold pieces represent a new fashion, a new wave, a new style of coinage, the Panama-Pacific coinage is associated with two particular events: The opening of the leviathan Panama Canal, and the great exposition in San Francisco in 1915 that celebrated both the Canal's opening and the city's rebuilding.
It is fitting that the 1915-S Panama-Pacific fifties should be the largest commemorative gold coins ever struck by the United States during the classic era, as the Panama Canal was certainly the most ambitious engineering project undertaken by America during the first half of the 20th century.
The present octagonal example of the Pan-Pac fifty is favored by most collectors between the two variants for the issue, although the round version is, strictly speaking, slightly rarer. This near-Gem example displays the appropriately immense eye appeal on each side. The surfaces show a range of gold and amber hues along with a sharp strike and excellent preservation. The Gem grade is likely prevented by a couple of small marks -- in the obverse field, on the cheek and helmet of Minerva on the obverse, and a small tick on the owl on the reverse -- but overall, this is a coin of marvelous quality and top-notch collector appeal.
Ex: Chicago Signature (Heritage, 8/2013), lot 5946, where it sold for $88,125.
From The Speechless Collection. (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.
View all of [The Speechless Collection ]
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