1915-S $50 Pan-Pac Round MS (PCGS# 7451)
The March 2012 Baltimore Auction
Lot Number: 4175
View the Original Auction
The designs of the obverse and reverse of the round $50 Panama-Pacific Exposition $50 coin are the same as those on the octagonal pieces, save for the absence of dolphins at the corners. Remarkably adapted to either size planchet, the obverse and reverse designs on the round coins are actually larger as they fit more precisely on these round planchets. Given the unusual nature of the octagonal coins, those actually sold better than the round $50 pieces. Precious few collectors could afford a $50 piece, but if they could afford just one, the octagonal was usually the choice made. Hence these round $50s are scarcer with a distribution of 483 pieces as compared to 645 for the octagonal version. Both the obverse and reverse designs were by the talented Robert Aitken and depict Liberty as Athena in a highly stylized and appropriate manner for 1915, a period of expansive change in design and artistry, with the Arts and Crafts movement well underway in America.<br />
While the NGC Census figures tally 150 examples at the present grade level, there is undoubtedly duplication in that number as each grade point can mean significantly more value. Of the original 483 pieces some have been mishandled over time, many dropped and with their massive 2 1/2 ounces of gold, any incident with the floor or ground usually meant a rim dent of sizable proportions. No doubt the total number is more diminished after nearly 100 years than we actually know. Finding such quality today is indeed a treat for the eye. Always the hallmark of a great collection and one of the most popular issues of the 20th century.<br />
<strong>Numismatic Reflections by Q. David Bowers</strong><br />
A lovely example of the seldom-seen round format. This is the key to the series of classic commemorative gold coins of the early 20th century.