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    Long-Hidden 1915-S Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Round, Stunning Near-Gem Quality

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Round MS 64. The American dream. It's what founded this country and made it the dominant power in the world today. The story of the rags-to-riches immigrant has been told and retold in every city from New York to San Francisco. It is the story of how a man or woman leaves their family and birthplace behind, journeys across the ocean to seek a better life, and leaves their imprint on the fabric of their new country. Their hardships and successes help to define America and make it grow. For more than 200 years, the United States has expanded in size and stature thanks to the influx of these dreamers and hopefuls. While more than a few of them have fulfilled their dreams, most have learned that the streets of America are not paved with gold. In the case of one particular Austrian immigrant, however, the streets of his new home were indeed lined with gold, if only figuratively. Although unknown to the general hobby until recently, this collector left behind a manuscript that chronicles his dealings with the numismatic luminaries of his time. More importantly, he also left behind a small, yet significant collection of U.S. gold coins. After being hidden in a safe deposit box for more than 50 years, the coins have re-entered the numismatic market. The care with which they were preserved and their significance as rarities guarantees that this immigrant-turned-collector will leave his imprint on the hobby for years to come.
    Frank J. Hein was born November 28, 1883 in Kunnersdorf bei Zwickau in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Emigrating to the United States at an early age, Hein eventually became a caretaker at 16 Portland Place in St. Louis, Missouri. While he may not have been a wealthy man, Hein apparently made wise investments that allowed him later in life to turn his money and time to the pursuit of rare coins. By studying the notes that Hein left us, we know that he corresponded with Wayte Raymond, T. C. Brandts of the Celina Coin Co. in Ohio, and Burton H. Saxton, the editor and business manager of The Numismatist. Perhaps using advice obtained from these sources, but more probably acting on his own instinct, Hein tailored his collection to include only gold coins, and rare ones at that. Before his death on March 6, 1949, Hein left his coins in a safe deposit box with the following instructions for his wife: "Don't handle them. Don't take them out of the safe deposit box, but you can look at them all you want." Although she passed away in 1959, Emilia Hein left these same instructions to their daughter, Hilda. She in turn safeguarded the family's treasure until her death in 1996.
    The coins officially came out of hiding when one of Hein's granddaughters and her husband walked into the shop of St. Louis dealer Bill Smith. After consulting with an attorney, Hein's descendants decided to give Smith the task of selling the coins. Smith displayed the coins at the Mid-America Coin Expo a few months ago and asked for sealed bids from a dozen or so major dealers in the numismatic industry. Although the story of Hein's collection had been told in the May 30, 2000 edition of Numismatic News, the Mid-America Coin Expo proved to be too limited of a venue to generate the bids that the coins deserved.
    Hein's collection contained eight rare U.S. gold coins. The three most important coins, a 1907 Ultra-High Relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle, a 1915-S Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Round, and a 1915-S Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal, did not sell at the Mid-America Coin Expo. Instead of going back into hiding, however, the Pan-Pac slugs will be offered in this sale.
    The present lot features Hein's 1915-S Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Round. One glance at this coin will prove the wisdom of Hein's advice to his wife. The surfaces were obviously well cared for, a fact that is supported by the lack of distracting abrasions on both sides. While many extant Panama-Pacific slugs are noticeably lackluster, this coin exhibits a bright, frosty sheen with pleasing cartwheel effects. Sharply defined, the surfaces allow for full appreciation of the impressive design. With captivating eye appeal and a rich history, this orange-gold example is truly a sight to behold. (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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    Auction Dates
    October, 2000
    5th-7th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 263
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