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    Magnificent Gem 1915-S Pan-Pac Octagonal Fifty Dollar

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS65 PCGS. CAC. It was appropriate that the fifty dollar Panama-Pacific Exposition coins were produced in San Francisco. This was a tribute to events of the early Gold Rush years, in the vicinity of modern-day San Francisco, when two of the most prominent gold coins were the round and octagonal fifty dollar "slugs" that were minted, respectively, by the Wass Molitor company and by Augustus Humbert (first as United States Assayer of Gold, and later as the United States Assay Office of Gold).
    A certain amount of misinformation has been propagated concerning the octagonal Pan-Pac fifty dollar issue. For instance, according to The Encyclopedia of United States Silver & Gold Commemorative Coins, 1892 to 1954 (Swiatek and Breen, 1981), the first 100 pieces were struck on the grounds of the exposition itself, on June 15, 1915--the very first coin by Mint Superintendent T.W.H. Shanahan, the second by exposition president Charles C. Moore, and the next 27 examples by a succession of other dignitaries. This ceremonial event may have actually occurred, but, if so, it was at the San Francisco Mint, not on the grounds of the exposition.
    According to Roger Burdette, writing in the Renaissance of American Coinage 1909-1915 (page 265): "Enabling legislation limited production to 25,000 gold dollars, 10,000 quarter eagles, 3,000 quintuple eagles (both varieties combined) and 200,000 half dollars. The Legislation authorized production of the coins on the exhibition ground, but after a legal opinion from the treasury's solicitor that coins could only be struck within a mint, all coins were actually produced at the San Francisco Mint. Only souvenir medals were made as part of the Mint Bureau's display in the Mines Building."
    At least one published report of the coins' size is also inaccurate. In the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins, by Garrett and Guth, the diameter of both the round and octagonal types is listed as 50.8 mm. In actuality, if measured from "point-to-point," the diameter of the octagonal variety is 49 mm. The round version has a diameter of 44 mm.
    The current offering is a magnificently preserved and visually stunning Gem representative of the Panama-Pacific octagonal fifty dollar type. Produced on a medal press that was shipped from Philadelphia to San Francisco just for the exposition, this specimen displays typically crisp and even definition of Robert Aitken's artistically impressive design elements. The lovely golden-orange coloration is highlighted by pleasing satin luster, and the coin's surfaces are remarkably clean.
    A truly splendid example of this classic American commemorative coin, and one that deserves the attention and respect of any serious numismatist.
    From The Southwest 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 Southwest Collection ]

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    Auction Dates
    February, 2008
    14th-16th Thursday-Saturday
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