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    Description

    1915-S Panama-Pacific Exposition Five-Piece Set
    MS63-65, All PCGS Certified
    Ex: Hills Brothers

    1915-S Panama-Pacific Five-Piece Set MS63-65 PCGS. Ex: Hills Bros. Yes, those Hills Brothers (of coffee fame). These coins came from a large collection assembled by Austin Herbert Hills, the son of the founder of Hills Brothers Coffee. Austin Hills was running the company in 1915, and during the Panama-Pacific Exposition Hills Brothers Coffee had a pavilion on the fair grounds. The collection remained untouched in a bank vault until the sale was brokered five years ago. The dealer who brokered the transaction left all the coins untouched, the thought being an original group would be much more interesting than anything that had been conserved. This is a fresh, five-piece set that contains all five Panama-Pacific commemorative coins issued by the Mint and all are certified by PCGS. Included are:

    Half Dollar MS63. FS-502. Repunched Mintmark. The second punch is north of the primary mintmark. The obverse is covered with deep, even blue toning with faint traces of rose, while the reverse is golden-brown with deep blue peripheral accents. Bright mint luster sparkles beneath the toning. Only held at the MS63 level by a couple of minor abrasions on the reverse.

    Gold Dollar MS64. Remarkably vibrant mint luster with attractive reddish patina. This piece certainly has the look of a Gem with no obvious abrasions.

    Quarter Eagle MS65. Not quite as lustrous as the gold dollar; nevertheless, the surfaces are free from any obvious marks. Just a few hairline-thin slide marks can be seen with a magnifier.

    Fifty Dollar Round MS63. The fifty dollar Round is the overlooked key to the Panama-Pacific commemorative series. It lacks the affordability of the half dollar and gold dollar, the novelty of design of the quarter eagle (the hippocampus, specifically), and the octagonal retro shape of the fifty dollar Octagonal. Yet, it is clearly the rarest of all these issues. Only 483 examples were struck, compared to the 645 pieces made of the Octagonal. The Round has the same design (minus the dolphins) as the Octagonal with a wary Minerva with helmet helmet pulled back on the head, indicating readiness for war. The reverse features the watchful owl atop California pine cones -- clearly a nod to the state that hosted the Pan-Pac Exposition. Like the other pieces in this set, the surfaces are remarkably clean. Just a few barely perceptible slide marks can be found with a magnifier. The surfaces are light reddish-gold with bright underlying mint luster.

    Fifty Dollar Octagonal MS63. The 1915-S Panama-Pacific octagonal fifty dollar gold commemoratives, as mentioned, pay homage to their forebears via their octagonal shape, but they bear an updated, Neoclassical design by Robert Aitken that is a favorite among collectors. The octagonal version had a net distribution of 645 pieces, and their round counterparts 483 coins. The Minerva and her familiar owl, feature most prominently on the two sides of the 1915-S fifty dollar pieces, but the swimming dolphins in the interstices of the octagonal version remind the viewer of the oceanic connection. One could argue that the 1915 commemorative exposition in San Francisco might have been more aptly called the Atlantic-Panama-Pacific Exposition instead, since it was the Panama Canal that linked those two mighty oceans.

    The fifty dollar gold coins were sold at the Panama-Pacific Exposition for $100 or double face value, an exorbitant sum equivalent to several months' worth of wages for many Americans. This is another exceptionally attractive coin in this set, one that appears much finer in-hand. Even with a magnifier the only flaws are a couple of shallow marks at the top of Minerva's helmet.

    Also included is the original black presentation box. It is somewhat scuffed from a century in a bank vault, but the clasp still works and the lid is not bowed as often seen. The edges are scuffed and there are two pieces of Scotch tape holding the top of the box to the front side.


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

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2016
    6th-11th Wednesday-Monday
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