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    1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty, MS64
    Scarcer Round Version
    483 Examples Sold

    1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Round MS64 NGC. These celebrated fifty dollar gold coins are greatly appreciated for their beauty, impressive size, and scarcity. As souvenirs of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, they are unparalleled. But perhaps more significantly, these coins serve as tangible symbols of the California Gold Rush economy and the resulting growth of the city of San Francisco.

    There would be no Panama-Pacific International Exposition, no fifty dollar slugs, were it not for the monumentally important discovery of gold by James Marshall at John Sutter's mill on January 24, 1848. The find brought tens of thousands of migrants from the Eastern United States and Europe to northern California with the hopes of striking it rich. San Francisco quickly became the hub of Western expansion. Its population swelled from roughly 150 residents in 1846 to more than 50,000 just 10 years later. However, in the early years of the Gold Rush, economic growth was made more difficult, if not hampered, by a tradition found in many parts of America at that time.

    California, like other states, had a history of metallism - a reliance on "hard money" and a distrust of paper currency. However, in the face of vast amounts of wealth being mined in the gold fields, a shortage of circulating coinage persisted. "Coin of the realm" was needed to pay customs, and its scarcity incited hoarding. Miners, merchants, and other settlers usually traded in gold ore or dust, which varied widely in purity and required carrying scales. Private assayers and coiners of varying repute set up shop along Montgomery Street, but this was only a partial solution to the problem.

    A more sustainable answer to the coin shortage was authorizing the firm of Moffat & Co. to act under government contract as the United States Assay Office in 1851, with Augustus Humbert as U.S. Assayer. The U.S.A.O. served as a sort of provisional mint, producing large fifty dollar ingots to serve as a standardized medium of exchange on the frontier.

    In 1854, the U.S. government established a branch mint at San Francisco. After a period of normal growing pains, the facility quickly proved itself capable of converting vast quantities of California gold into usable circulating coinage. The San Francisco Mint outgrew its first building in just two decades and moved into what is commonly referred to as the Granite Lady in 1874. That property would serve as its home until 1937, and was one of the few buildings to survive the devastating earthquake and fire that decimated the city in 1906.

    The 1915-S Panama-Pacific fifty dollar gold coins are products of this long and fascinating history. They were modeled after the iconic Humbert fifty dollar slugs, struck at the famous Second San Francisco Mint, and produced to commemorate, in part, San Francisco's rebirth after the devastating earthquake of 1906. Both round and octagonal versions were produced, using the same basic design by sculptor Robert Aitken. The coins had a selling price of $100 per coin, too expensive for all but the most wealthy collectors to afford. As a result, only 483 examples of the round version were sold.

    The present coin is an attractive Choice example of the elusive round Pan-Pac fifty, with well-detailed design elements and well-preserved orange-gold surfaces that radiate vibrant mint luster from both sides. Overall eye appeal is terrific for this classic gold commemorative issue. Part of a five-piece Pan-Pac set, with the coins offered in consecutive lots in this catalog.(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
    October, 2019
    17th-24th Thursday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 39
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,464

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

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