1915-S $50 Pan-Pac Round MS (PCGS# 7451)

The March 2010 Baltimore Auction

  • Auctioneer:
    Bowers & Merena
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Lot Description
1915-S Panama-Pacific Exposition $50. Round. MS-66 (PCGS). The highest-denomination Commemorative coins ever struck in the United States Mint, the 1915-S Fifty-Dollar gold pieces were produced for sale at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915. Ostensibly held to celebrate the completion and opening of the Panama Canal, the Exposition also provided the city of San Francisco with an opportunity to showcase its revival after the devastating earthquake of 1906.<br />     The Fifty-Dollar gold pieces were authorized by Congress with a specified mintage of 3,000 coins. This figure is further subdivided into 1,500 examples each for the octagonal and round types. Both exhibit essentially the same design, the obverse with a bust of the goddess Athena (Minerva in Roman mythology) wearing a crested helmet pushed back on top of her head. The goddess holds a shield upon which is inscribed the date 1915 in Roman numerals MCMXV. The field above the central device is inscribed with the motto IN GOD WE TRUST, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is above and the denomination FIFTY DOLLARS is below. The use of Athena is due to her status as the goddess of wisdom, skill, agriculture, horticulture, spinning and weaving--all of which are critical to the economy of California.<br />     The reverse depicts Athena's owl--symbol of wisdom--perched atop a branch of ponderosa pine. The Latin motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is present in the field behind the owl, the inscription PANAMA-PACIFIC EXPOSITION is above and the city SAN FRANCISCO is below. The octagonal pieces, but not the round coins, display an extra inner border with a dolphin device that signifies the continuous waterway created through the opening of the Panama Canal. The coin's designer is Robert Aitken.<br />     The price for Exposition attendees was $100 per Fifty-Dollar gold coin, a sum that also entitled the buyer to an example of the Panama-Pacific Half Dollar, Gold Dollar and Quarter Eagle at no
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