1915-S $50 Pan-Pac Octagonal MS (PCGS# 7452)


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Lot Description
1915-S Panama-Pacific Exposition $50. Octagonal. MS-64 (PCGS). CAC. A boldly lustrous deep yellow-gold specimen with pale olive highlights and impressive eye appeal. Arguably one of the most beautiful of all American coinage designs, in the commemorative vein or otherwise. Technically dated MCMXV-S, though the "Arabic" numerals version of the date, 1915-S, is the date that rings true with today's collecting community. From a total mintage of 1,509 pieces, with nine of those for intended assay. Of that modest production figure, 645 examples were sold at the Exposition, the balance melted after the fact. Its octagonal format—the only such occurrence in U.S. coinage from any federal mint—was a big draw and 162 more of the unique octagonal format were sold at the Exposition than those in the round format. Robert Aitken's beautiful design features Athena—or Minerva, take your pick—at the center in full battle armor with crested helm and warrior shield, the shield emblazoned with the date in Roman numerals, and with IN GOD WE TRUST on two lines above the helmet's visor, all within a circle of alternating dots and dashes. An outer design circle features UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FIFTY DOLLARS around the central motif. A dolphin, symbolizing freedom of the seas, is seen in each of the eight angles of the coin. The reverse design features the "wise old owl" of Athena, her familiar and the symbol of ancient Athens, perched on a pine branch and surrounded by pinecones. E PLURIBUS UNUM appears on three lines behind the owl, and the tiny S mintmark is nestled among the pinecones. As on the obverse, two concentric circles appear, here with PANAMA-PACIFIC EXPOSITION SAN FRANCISCO within; a dolphin occupies each angle. Many of the known survivors from this distribution are in far lower grades than the present beauty, and many of them have been noticeably mishandled over the years. Not so the case here. The present coin is a
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