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    1915-S Octagonal Fifty Dollar Gold, MS65
    Important Panama-Pacific Issue

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS65 PCGS Secure. The Panama-Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco in 1915, was intended to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal the previous year. It also provided San Francisco with an opportunity to show its recovery from the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire that essentially destroyed the entire city. The fair, held from February 20 through December 16, 1915, was located on 635 acres of the northern shore in the area now known as the Marina District. Although the buildings of the event were intended as temporary structures to be torn down after the fair closed, the Palace of Fine Arts remains standing a century later.

    Among the many souvenirs of the exposition, including booklets and postcards, were a series of commemorative medals and coins. The various medals including dollar-sized pieces that are known today as So-Called dollars. That series included nearly 30 different designs that were struck in a variety of metals as recorded at Farran Zerbe, one of the leading numismatic figures at the time, called upon Congress to authorize a series of U.S. Mint commemorative gold and silver coins. Zerbe was a recent past president of the American Numismatic Association (from 1908 to 1910), publisher of The Numismatist, and founder of the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society that he organized in the year of the exposition. In later years, he was head of the Chase Manhattan Money Museum in New York City. Zerbe was born at Blair County, Pennsylvania on April 16, 1871, and died at New York City on December 25, 1949. The Farran Zerbe Memorial Award of the American Numismatic Association recognizes many years of outstanding service to numismatics.

    The Panama-Pacific commemorative coins include a silver half dollar, and gold dollars, quarter eagles, and fifty dollar pieces, the latter minted in round and octagonal formats. Initially, plans were made to have the large $50 coins struck on the exposition grounds. However, those plans fell through and the coins were struck at the nearby San Francisco Mint building, the Granite Lady. The Mint earned that nickname as the only building to wholly survive the 1906 earthquake and fire.

    Initial production of the large gold coins including 1,509 octagonal pieces and 1,510 round examples. Sales fell far short of those figures, and eventually the Mint melted 855 octagonal pieces and 1,015 round coins, leaving a net distribution of 645 and 483 coins respectively. The result is a pair of major rarities that are extremely popular with collectors today. The Round and Octagonal issues have identical designs, save for the appearance of dolphins in the angles of the border on the octagonal coins. This stunning Gem exhibits a bold impression with brilliant yellow surfaces and soft, frosty mint luster. Population: 24 in 65 (3 in 65+), 4 finer (11/16).
    From The Azalea 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 Azalea Collection ]

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