By James McCartney – Senior Numismatist, Stack’s Bowers ……
At the time of issue in 1915, the round version of the Panama-Pacific Exposition $50 did not sell as well as the more unusual octagonal style. The result was that a greater percentage of the mintage was returned to the Mint for melting. Of the 1,500 round examples struck, only 483 were distributed, making this type the rarest collectible United States Mint commemorative coin. A good number of those sold, perhaps the majority, went into non-numismatic hands and as a result, they are occasionally seen with quite a bit of handling or other surface problems.
Stack’s Bowers Galleries is thrilled to be offering a stunning MS-65 (NGC) example of the round Pan-Pac $50 in our upcoming August 2020 Auction. Few remain in such exceptional preservation as this piece, making it an opportunity for collectors who seek the finest treasures.
The obverse depicts Liberty as Athena with her helmet pitched up upon her head in the fashion of the Greeks, surrounded by the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above, and the denomination FIFTY DOLLARS below. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST is located in the upper left field.
For the reverse, designer Robert Aitken featured a large owl facing nearly forward, perched on a thick pine branch, with large pine cones below and in the background. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is tucked into the field behind the owl. Matching the obverse is a round band at the perimeter that notes the name and place of the Exposition. On the similar octagonal pieces, an extra border with dolphins symbolizes the continuous waterway created by the opening of the Panama Canal.
The specimen offered in our August auction is a beautiful Gem with vibrant yellow-gold surfaces and hints of original peach in the protected areas. The texture is uniformly satiny and the fields are nearly pristine. This is a simply incredible representative of this large and impressive gold coin, featured in the popular reference 100 Greatest U.S. Coins by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.
This MS-65 (NGC) 1915-S Panama-Pacific Round $50 will be offered in our August 2020 ANA Auction, accompanying rarities from the Sherwood Collection of Civil War Tokens, the ESM Collection of Large Cents, selections from the Anthony J. Taraszka Collection of Early Eagles, selections from the D. Brent Pogue Collection and many other rarities. The sale is will be available for bidding and viewing on our website www.StacksBowers.com in early July, or you may contact us to secure a copy of the printed catalog. Also, download our mobile app to view and participate in our auctions via your Android or Apple device.