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    1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty Dollar, MS65
    Famous Octagonal Design
    Key Among Classic Commemoratives

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS65 NGC. Charles C. Moore, president of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition Company, declared upon the striking of the first fifty dollar Octagonal commemorative coins on June 16, 1915: "Numismatists will seek these coins with zeal." Looking back, those words seem prophetic, considering the issue's now-iconic status. However, Moore may have been overly optimistic in his pronouncement at the time.

    Prior to the June 1915 striking ceremony, the Mint, the Panama-Pacific Exposition Company, and Farran Zerbe, who had been tasked with selling official Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing products, demonstrated a serious lack of organization and planning. Dies for the small-denomination commemoratives had been sent from Philadelphia to San Francisco without proper mintmarks, production of official souvenir medals vastly outpaced demand, and the booth through which official Mint products were sold was poorly placed.

    Zerbe's Money of the World exhibit was located at the center of the five-acre Palace of Liberal Arts surrounded by countless other vendors hawking debased souvenirs. A more logical location would have been the Palace of Mines and Metallurgy, where the actual Mint operation was situated. Visitors to Zerbe's exhibit were understandably skeptical of his wares, and coin sales reflected it.

    Then there was the simple matter of how much these enormous fifty dollar gold pieces cost. Their face value alone put them out of reach for most fair-goers, and the added $50 premium all but ensured the coins would sell poorly. A week-long hotel stay in San Francisco cost about $7 in 1915. Meals over that period cost roughly the same. Even with a round-trip train ticket from the East coast, the price of attending the PPIE was about the same as obtaining a single fifty dollar gold commemorative.

    All things considered, the sale of 645 Octagonal fifty dollar gold commemoratives is impressive despite falling significantly short of the authorized production of 1,500 coins. Survivors are typically seen in MS63 and MS64 and are very scarcely offered in Gem condition. We expect parties interested in this marvelous representative to pursue it "with zeal," as Charles Moore predicted more than 100 years ago.

    A medal press imported from Philadelphia explains the razor-sharp impression. Textured surfaces display soft mint frost and rich yellow-gold coloration. There are a few small marks around the rim and on Minerva's helmet, but they are only seen under magnification. Census: 47 in 65 (1 in 65+), 13 finer (10/17).
    From The Cherry Grove 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 Cherry Grove Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2018
    3rd-8th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,064

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