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    1915-S Panama-Pacific Round Fifty Dollar, MS65
    Only 483 Examples Struck

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Round MS65 NGC. Sculptor Robert Aitken, designer of the Round and Octagonal fifty dollar gold coins, had a long history with the city of San Francisco and was one of the first artists invited to contribute to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Aitken was born in that city 37 years earlier on May 8, 1878. His talents were recognized early on by one of his teachers at Lick High School. Aitken was set on continuing his education at art school but was unable to finance such a venture. Thankfully, Aitken's high school teacher paid his tuition to attend the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, now the San Francisco Art Institute.

    After one year of study in the mid-1890s, Aitken was informed that "the Institute had little, if anything more it could teach him ... ." He had received an honorable mention in drawing and a gold medal in sculpture. In 1895, the call of the Parisian art scene beckoned. Robert Aitken set out to perfect his chiseling and metal casting techniques. After three months visiting French galleries, museums, and working in a studio, he returned to San Francisco, where he was awarded several important commissions for which he won numerous awards.

    Having firmly established himself as one of the most promising sculptors in America by the age of 23, Robert Aitken was offered and accepted an invitation to replace his former mentor at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art. Aitken taught there from 1901 to 1904, at which point he once again set sail for France, this time for three years. Aitken returned to New York City in 1907, got married, and began a tenure as a professor at the Art Students League.

    Later, Robert Aitken became an army captain during the final year of World War One and a teacher at the National Academy of Design in New York. He created dozens of acclaimed works before his death in 1949, including the Admiral Dewey monument at Union Square, San Francisco and the pediment to the West entrance of the United States Supreme Court. However, he is best remembered among numismatists for his massive fifty dollar gold coins in Round and Octagonal formats, featuring Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and industry, and her ever-present companion, the owl. A total of 483 Round fifty dollar slugs were sold in 1915 out of a possible 1,500 coins. That distribution is easily the lowest among all Classic commemoratives, gold or silver. The Round fifties are overlooked because of their traditional shape vs. the more nontraditional octagonal strikes. However, significantly fewer were struck, and thus fewer are available of the Rounds. Both shapes are major rarities in Gem condition. This is nearly mark-free example whose soft, frosted mint luster displays even reddish patina over each side.(Registry values: N10218)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# BYLU, PCGS# 7451)

    Weight: 83.59 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2017
    2nd-6th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 779

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