Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    1915-S Panama Pacific Fifty Dollar, MS65
    More Elusive Round Variant
    Only Two Numerically Finer at PCGS

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Round MS65 PCGS Secure. CAC. Authorized by the Act of January 16, 1915, the 1915-S Panama-Pacific fifty dollar gold piece was struck in both round and octagonal formats. The coins were issued in conjunction with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, held in Golden Gate Park to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, and the recovery of San Francisco after the devastating earthquake of 1906. Five commemorative coins were issued, including a silver half dollar, a gold dollar, a gold quarter eagle, and the two fifty dollar coins. Coin dealer Farran Zerbe conceived of the five-coin program and acted as distributor for the coins. The two fifty dollar pieces featured a design by New York sculptor Robert I. Aitken, with a helmeted head of Minerva (seen on the arms of the State of California) on the obverse and her sacred owl perched on a Ponderosa Pine branch on the reverse. The other three coins featured different artistic designs by different designers. The coins could be purchased individually, or in various sets and combinations, with different options offered as the program went on.

    Only 3,000 fifty dollar gold pieces were authorized by Congress and the production was split evenly among the two formats. A total of 1,500 round fifties were struck (plus 10 assay coins), which were offered to the public at $100 per piece. This represented a large amount of money in 1915 and few collectors could afford the big gold coins. Only 645 octagonal pieces and 483 round examples were sold, with the remainder melted. As might be expected, the round Pan-Pac fifties are somewhat more elusive than their octagonal counterparts today.

    The coins began appearing at auction at least as early as the Cook- Conover Collections Sale (B. Max Mehl, 11/1916), where a complete set of Panama-Pacific coins were offered in lots 500-504. The round Pan-Pac fifty was lot 501, described simply as, "1915 $50.00 Same design as last. Round. Uncirculated." Although the coins were offered separately, there was an option to bid on them as a set, with the copper-frame glass case they were issued in. The coins sold as a set for $200. The current price realized record for a round Pan-Pac fifty is $281,750 brought by the spectacular MS66 PCGS specimen in a Bowers and Merena sale in February of 2010.

    The present coin is a delightful Gem, with well-detailed design elements that show just a trace of the usual softness on the owl's leg. The well-preserved orange-gold surfaces are remarkably free of mentionable flaws and exhibit vibrant mint luster on both sides. Overall eye appeal is terrific. Population: 25 in 65 (4 in 65+), 2 finer. CAC: 17 in 65, 6 finer (11/16).
    From The Sounder Collection, Part II.(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.

    View all of [The Sounder Collection, Part II ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2017
    4th-9th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,725

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $19) 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
    Consign to the 2021 April 21 - 27 Central States World Coins Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage Auctions is an honest, fair company. My trust in them is based on their keeping promises and following through on all my concerns... I recommend Heritage Auctions to handle and sell coins.
    Victoria L.,
    San Gabriel, CA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search