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    Historic Five-Piece Panama-Pacific Commemorative Set
    Ex: King Farouk, Substantially Documented

    Farouk's Five-Piece Panama-Pacific Commemorative Set With Cases and Documentation. The opportunity offered here, to purchase the 1915-S Panama-Pacific five-piece commemorative set pedigreed to King Farouk and the Palace Collections of Egypt, is not a unique one if one looks through the past. There was the Palace Collections of Egypt auction, where one could have bid in the first February 1954 session on lot 298, "Panama-Pacific Exposition, 1915, fifty dollars round and octagonal; two and a half dollars; one dollar and a silver half dollar. In case of issue." Political volatility notwithstanding, the sale of the Palace Collections of Egypt was a tremendous opportunity for the bold bidder.
    A shade under three years later, in a decidedly more domestic locale, this set came up for auction again, this time at the 19th Semi-Annual California State Numismatic Association Convention's auction, put on by Leo A. Young. The cataloging was altogether more generous:

    "The very rare Panama Pacific [sic] Exposition Set of 1915 consisting of round & octagon $50 gold coins, $2.50 and $1.00 gold and 50ยข silver-this is the original set owned by King Farouk and purchased from the Palace Collection through Spink's of London, England. A magnificent set-Brilliant Uncirculated-mounted in gold lettered white plastic but also complete with original case of issue and the original ribbons of issue-truly one of the kings of display items with the added prestige of guaranteed authenticated royal ownership ..."

    A handful of private collectors and vendors have had the privilege of owning or offering this monumental set, and Heritage is proud to continue that tradition. The white and gold of the above-mentioned plastic case [offered separately as lot 6208] has been traded for the white and gold of NGC encapsulation, but the spirit remains the same. In the half-century since the Palace Collections auction, the legend of the King Farouk pedigree has only grown, and the public offering of this set must be regarded by commemorative collectors as an event of high importance.

    The present lot contains five coins and four pieces of ephemera, all coins pedigreed to the King Farouk Collection on their NGC holders:

    i) 1915-S Panama-Pacific Half Dollar MS66 NGC, CAC. A strikingly lustrous representative that offers marvelous patina. The central obverse is light gold-gray and orange, and that side's margins show rich sapphire and cyan toning with a thin ring of violet through the peripheral patina, this pattern appearing on a number of high-end toned Panama-Pacific halves. The reverse shows pink-tinged gold-orange around the periphery with a bright silver-white center. Well-defined with excellent eye appeal.

    ii) 1915-S Panama-Pacific Gold Dollar MS66 NGC, CAC. Not only one of the best technical examples available today, but also one of the most beautiful, with crisp detail and rich, satiny luster. Deep yellow-orange shadings prevail, but tiny glints of coral-pink add considerable variety and eye appeal. Noteworthy and desirable.

    iii) 1915-S Panama-Pacific Quarter Eagle MS64 NGC, CAC. Gorgeous luster with rich butter-yellow surfaces that show occasional sunset-orange tints. Well-defined overall, though a degree of the usual softness is present on Columbia's head, and if not for a few wispy marks in the fields, this piece would qualify easily for a finer designation.

    iv) 1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty Dollar Round MS63 NGC, CAC. The undisputed master of the mountains of American commemoratives, represented here by a pleasing Select example. Warm sun-yellow color and considerable luster that reflects the impressive texture lent to the dies. Subtle green-gold accents are scattered on each side, including to the left of Minerva's portrait. Minimally abraded for the grade.

    v) 1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty Dollar Octagonal MS64 NGC. This octagonal issue is a favorite of collectors and non-collectors alike, edged out by only the fifty dollar round for most challenging American commemorative. This luminous yellow-orange piece has a slightly dusky quality overall, though the eye appeal is consistently impressive. The well struck obverse shows few marks, and though a few sage alloy flecks are present at the lower reverse, these are hardly bothersome.

    vi) Shreve & Co. Copper and Glass Five-Slot Coin Frame With Ribbons and Tags. The hammered copper and glass in excellent condition, with the purple velvet and ribbons similarly well-preserved. The paper tags show only the slightest evidence of fading and are easily readable. Two screws holding the apparatus together missing, as is the leatherette-and-brass ring-suspension on the back of the holder, but these have little impact on the way this frame presents.

    vii) Five-Slot Cardboard and Leatherette Coin Case. An enigmatic item. The Farouk auction description does not mention the nature of the case which housed the pieces. Neither does the California auction description, save in a roundabout way which mentions the "ribbons." This case is too small to hold any sort of ribbon. Perhaps this case is something along the lines of the now-lost white-and-gold plastic holder, an item made to help house the coins. Whatever its origin, the case is fascinating. Silver and black leatherette is applied over cardboard on the exterior. The interior has similar leatherette facing with a salmon-colored lining.

    viii) Auction Catalog for the 19th Semi-Annual California State Numismatic Association Convention, held November 8-11, 1956. Light discoloration on the cover with scattered bidder's notes in an unknown hand, minor fraying at the corners, otherwise solid condition despite clear use. Staples are strong with no rusting.

    ix) Leo A. Young One-Page Autograph Letter Signed, on personal memo-stationery, dated 4-18-67. An important link in this lot's pedigree chain, written to a familiar (but not completely identified) correspondent. It reads in full:

    "Dear Ralph: / Nov. 8-11, 1956, Cal. State Auction Catalog + Price Realized list enclosed. / Lot #1447 - Pan Pac. Set, estimated value at $3,750. = - Sold at $3600.00 to Kenyon Painter. / This is the Farouk set. I personally purchased it from Spink + Sons of London and they did + do guarantee what I've said about it being the Farouk Set. What else can I do for you? / Regards / Leo"

    Minor fraying at edges with light ink stain at left, otherwise pleasing condition with textual integrity absolute.

    If coins could talk, this widely traveled set would have quite the story to tell. Even though the pieces themselves are mute, the tags and their text, the catalog, and most of all, the letter from Leo A. Young speak volumes. For the collector who likes coins with a heavy dose of history, this is a fantastic lot. Should the winning bidder not already own a copy, the purchase of the Palace Collections of Egypt catalog from a reputable dealer in numismatic literature is highly recommended, to add yet another link to the past.
    Ex: King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby & Co., 2/54), lot 298; Spink & Son; Leo A. Young; CSNA Convention Auction (Leo A. Young, 11/56), lot 1447; Kenyon Painter; unknown intermediaries.

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

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2009
    7th-11th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 19
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 9,130

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