MCMXV S-Mint Panama-Pacific Round
1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Round MS64 NGC. CAC. It
is sometimes easy to overlook the fair or exposition commemorated
by a particular coin. A quick read through the official brochure
for the Panama-Pacific Exposition helps bring to life the wonder
and excitement promised by that exposition.
One of Only 483 Produced
When a visitor entered through the main gate on the city side, he or she would wander through the great South Garden and soon come to the "Court of the Universe," the largest of the exposition's five courts. The official fair brochure continued: "This is the meeting place of the Eastern and Western hemispheres, and the decorative scheme on each side is typical of this theme. This is the first Exposition to have a uniform color scheme ... the world will be shown a study in natural tints unlike anything ever before attempted and which at once commands the attention and admiration of all beholders. The palaces themselves are of a soft, cold, gray tint, a kind of smoked ivory, at once pleasing and restful to the eyes, and which forms a foundation or background for the vivid coloring of doorways, the vari-tinted shrubbery, the beds of flowers and matchless lawns."
The brochure went on to exclaim: "From an educational standpoint ... this is the first time in the history of man the entire world is known and in intercommunication. Even the discovery of the north and south poles has been accomplished, and the wide expanses of land and water have been correctly mapped out ... For the first time all the world is known."
The official fair brochure said that visitors would be treated to "an encyclopedia of modern achievement" just by wandering around. It gave some extraordinary details. The construction cost $50 million. Another like amount was the composite value of the exhibitions. There were miles of "ornamented avenues" to explore. You would see more than 250 groups of marble-like statues crafted by the world's masters, and huge murals, "masterpieces by the greatest artists." There was a million-dollar Auditorium, and an art palace "more beautiful than any part of ancient Greece" containing "the largest and most comprehensive collection of pictures ever collected and shown in one place." There were "near two score Pavilions of the States and Foreign Nations vying with each other in architecture, displays and hospitality." The livestock exhibit showed off countless kinds of animals and the "world's best birds." If that wasn't enough to please you, there were 65 acres of amusement concessions.
There were also spectacular nightly fireworks. For the history-minded, the Liberty Bell had been brought from Philadelphia to the fair for all to see. If industry intrigued you, you could watch the new Ford automobiles being built on an assembly-line set up in the Palace of Transportation. And you might just spot some personalities while visiting the fair: it was attended by John Philip Sousa (who performed at the fair for nine weeks), Buffalo Bill Cody, motion-picture director D. W. Griffith, singer Al Jolson, and Hollywood greats Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle (all of whom had also appeared at the St. Louis fair).
This was a fair to end all fairs, the brochure promised. Fun and easy to get to, taking "less effort and less expense than ever before. The railroads are making every preparation for the special accommodation and comfort of their patrons. Very low rates are quoted from all points to California, giving the opportunity of going one way and returning by any other. Make your reservations now--you will never regret it."
And coins were a part of the wonder at the exposition as well. The Round and Octagonal fifty dollar gold pieces still hold the record for the largest gold commemoratives struck by the United States. These two coins were so massive that a medal press was needed to strike them. They are medallion-like. Their beauty is undeniable. So is their symbolism. The 483 round fifties that exist today comprise the lowest mintage of any U.S. commemorative coin. At the fair, they were sold either individually or framed as a set with the other commemoratives. So few of these sets, in copper frames, were sold that the exact number of sets in existence is not known. This is a chance to own an example of this rarely seen, large format gold coin. The surfaces are nearly flawless with a very shallow luster graze in the center of the obverse apparently the only limiting factor that keeps it from grading even higher. The satiny surfaces show a slight reddish patina over each side. A wonderful opportunity to acquire this important coin. CAC: 28 in 64, 23 finer (11/16).(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# BYHP, PCGS# 7451)
Weight: 83.59 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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