Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty Dollar, MS65
    Stunning Octagonal Variant
    Fantastic Luster and Originality

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS65 PCGS Secure. CAC. The May 20, 1914, issue of the Canal Record, published weekly in Ancon, the Panama Canal Zone, reported important news that thousands of Panama Canal employees and their relatives in dozens of countries had long awaited:

    Tenth Year Closes with Practical Completion of
    the Canal, and Marks the Beginning of Use

    "Ten years of American occupation of the Canal Zone were completed on May 4, 1914, the transfer of Canal property from the second French company to the United States having been effected on May 4, 1904. The three first years of the American occupation were devoted principally to preparation. Excavation in the Culebra Cut section, continued from the first with such equipment as was available, was not well under way on the American plan until the first part of 1907; and the only dredge at work up to May 20, 1907, was the old French ladder dredge Mole, maintaining the channel between the ocean and the steel wharf at Balboa.

    "The decade has seen the virtual completion of the Canal, and the beginnings of its commercial and naval use. During the past year, the sealevel channels have been opened to Gatun and Miraflores Locks; Gatun and Miraflores Lakes have been filled to normal height; Culebra Cut has been flooded; all of the locks have been operated repeatedly; and a number of vessels in the Canal service, as well as several rafts of piles under tow, have passed from ocean to ocean through the Canal."

    It was another year before the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition could get under way in honor of the Canal completion, billing itself as the "greatest world's fair of all time." The "Panama-Pacific" name itself embodies the many-faceted nature of the historic 1915 observance in San Francisco. "Panama" alludes to the construction of the audacious Panama Canal, but "Pacific" refers more specifically to the Pacific port city of San Francisco, which saw a massive rebuilding from the ruin and ashes in the decade following the catastrophic 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire. And the exposition also commemorated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Vasco Núñez de Balboa and his party, the first Europeans ever to do so.

    The Panama-Pacific fifty dollar gold coins are arguably the most impressive remembrances today of the massive exposition. Struck nearly a century ago, the two-and-a-half-ounce gold coins featured an unparalleled size and heft that would never again be approached by a U.S. coin in the "classic commemorative" era. The round version featured slightly larger designs, while the octagonal version showed smaller central designs with a bonus -- 16 dolphins frolicking in the vertices of each side.

    While the round versions of these giant gold commemorative coins are rarer due to greater melting, the octagonal pieces are slightly more apt to be found in Gem grade, as here, due to their somewhat greater survival. And an impressive survivor indeed this piece is, showing deep reddish-orange to reddish-brown patina, clearly the result of 101 years of unblemished preservation. The textured surfaces are a cornucopia of fantastic luster, originality, and simply superlative eye appeal. It is difficult to conceive of a finer example. Population: 24 in 65 (3 in 65+), 4 finer. CAC: 12 in 65, 0 finer (2/16). The last example that we offered in MS65 PCGS with a CAC green label was in our Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2015), lot 5516, which brought $205,625.
    From The Paul Denby Collection of U.S. Gold Commemoratives.(Registry values: P7)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# BYLX, 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 Paul Denby Collection of U.S. Gold Commemoratives ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Apr-May, 2016
    27th-1st Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 26
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,126

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

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

    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
    Only 19 days left to consign to the 2021 February 3 - 8 Long Beach Expo US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach!

    Learn about consigning with us

    I couldn't ask for more with respect to Heritage's marketing effort.
    Gerald T.,
    Atlantic Highlands, NJ
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search