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    1915-S Round Pan-Pac Fifty, MS64
    Only 483 Coins Distributed
    Two-and-a-Half Ounces of Gold

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Round MS64 NGC. The United States commemorative coins issued for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition were sold through Farran Zerbe, a coin dealer and marketing guru, who was contracted by the exposition company. According to Roger Burdette, writing in Renaissance of American Coinage: 1909-1915, "... the exposition company hired him as a temporary employee to manage all official coin and medal sales. He was to sell the souvenir coins, medals, engravings, printed silk items such as handkerchiefs and scarves, and assorted knickknacks from his exhibit space," which was called "Zerbe's Unique Money of the World" and located in the Palace of Liberal Arts.

    Prices for each of the Round and Octagonal fifty dollar gold pieces was set at $100. Complete five-coins sets (half dollar through fifty dollar) were available for $200, and 10-coin sets carried a hefty price tag of $400. These products were never really intended for sale to the average fairgoer, and Zerbe knew that. According to Dave Bowers, "On August 16, 1915, Farran Zerbe sent out a draft for a suggested form letter or advertisement to be reproduced and used by financial institutions in connection with Panama-Pacific coins. Banks were encouraged to order some for local display." Zerbe's letter read as follows:

    "In the series of commemorative coins authorized by Act of Congress for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, there is seen for the first time a $50 gold piece authorized by the government of the United States. The issue of this denomination is limited to not over 3,000 pieces, and it is provided that one-half the issue shall be octagonal in shape. These are the first octagonal coins to be produced by our government.

    "The coining of the first $50 gold piece was an event of considerable celebration and local interest at the San Francisco Mint. Representatives of the government, state, city, and Exposition, together with notable representatives of foreign governments, were present at the coining. In addition to the two shapes of the $50 gold pieces, there are included in this series one half dollar in silver and one dollar in gold and two-and-one-half dollars in gold. On the gold dollars appears an artist's ideal of Labor, this being the first time the sons of toil had been honored on the coinage of any nation. A complete set of these coins is now on public exhibition at the banking rooms of--[space to be filled in by the local bank]. All are invited to see this set of interesting coins .... "

    Whether Zerbe's marketing scheme was successful or not is a matter of debate. Only 483 of the 1,500 Round fifties available were sold, and the remainder of the production was melted. This Choice Uncirculated example is clean for the grade with smooth, satiny surfaces that showcase the kind of pebbly texture that is typical of the issue. Color is a rich shade of honey-gold, and eye appeal is excellent.(Registry values: N10218)

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

    Weight: 83.59 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2020
    18th-20th Friday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,252

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
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