Coin Specifications

Category: Gold Commemoratives (1903-1926)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 483
Catalog: KM-138
Obverse Designer: Robert Aitken
Reverse Designer: Robert Aitken
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 83.5900g
AGW: 2.4186oz
Melt Value: $2728.91 (9/3/2015)
Diameter: 44mm
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1915 S ROUND PANAMA-PACIFIC $50 MS obverse 1915 S ROUND PANAMA-PACIFIC $50 MS reverse


  
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VarietyPlus®

There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

The Panama Canal, which remains one of the engineering marvels of the modern age, was completed in August of 1914. To celebrate this achievement, Congress authorized the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. This Expo, held in San Francisco, was also a celebration of the city’s recovery from the devastating earthquake of 1906. In addition to the expo, Congress authorized a series of commemorative coins honoring the exposition. These were to include a half dollar, gold dollar, $2.5 gold piece, and two different $50 gold pieces; one round, and one octagonal. The bill authorizing these issues was signed into law on January 16, 1915. New York artist Robert Aitkin was selected to design both of the $50 gold pieces. He was a well-regarded sculptor, but had never before designed a coin. His designs, while not inherently American, was a rather successful attempt to obtain classic Greek motifs on modern coinage.

Aitkin’s obverse depicts a left-facing bust of Minerva, the Roman goddess of, among other things, wisdom, skill, and agriculture. She wears a crested helmet, pushed back to signify peaceful intentions—a symbol of American sentiment towards a Europe deeply embroiled in the carnage of World War I. The date appears in Roman numerals—MCMXV—at the top of Minerva’s shield. The entire central design is surrounded by a long and short-beaded motif, also adapted from Greek design. On the octagonal pieces, the central design was smaller, and stylized dolphins were placed in each of the eight corners on both obverse and reverse. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and FIFTY DOLLARS appear on the periphery of the obverse. IN GOD WE TRUST can be seen above Minerva’s head.

The coins’ reverse depicts an owl perched on a Ponderosa Pine, surrounded by cones. Owls were sacred to Minerva, and the bird is commonly recognized as a symbol for wisdom. The beaded border is repeated again on the reverse, separating the central design from the legends PANAMA PACIFIC EXPOSITION and FIFTY DOLLARS around the periphery. E PLURIBUS UNUM can be seen to the right of the owl.

A special 14-ton press was transported from the Philadelphia Mint to San Francisco to strike the coins. In total, 1,500 of both the octagonal and round were struck. Despite the popularity of the large size and design, only 645 of the octagonal, and 483 of the round were sold. This was likely due to the extremely high cost of the coin. Finding buyers at $100 for a $50 gold coin when wages were low, interest in numismatics was insignificant, and political and economic uncertainty high, was a difficult task at best.

GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 7/15/2015

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1915 S ROUND PANAMA-PACIFIC $50 MS
  GVGFVFXF5053555861626364656667686970
Base $ - - - 34500 42000 50500 51000 52500 57500 75000 90000 105000 127500 195000 265000 375000 - - -
$ - - - - - - - - 137500 225000 315000 - -

The World Coin Price Guide is independently compiled by Krause Publications’ NumisMaster. NGC makes this information available to its website visitors as a free service, but in no way does the information provided represent NGC’s official opinion or policy. For example, varieties listed in the World Coin Price Guide may not necessarily be recognized by NGC. Please contact NGC Customer Service with any questions.

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 401
Low Grade: 55
Average Grade: 63
High Grade: 67


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
4/3/2006 NGC MS 64   David Lawrence Rare Coins Auction 81: The Leesburg Sale, 86/Lot# 1134 $84,525.00
4/2/2007 NGC MS 64   Teletrade Auction 2348, 2348/Lot# 2421 $91,840.00
7/30/2008 PCGS MS 63   Heritage Auctions 2008 July-August Baltimore, MD (ANA) US Coin Signature Auction #1114, 1114/Lot# 2147 $80,500.00
5/24/2009 PCGS MS 63   Goldberg May 24-27, 2009 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 53/Lot# 1457 $63,250.00
5/29/2011 NGC MS 65   Goldberg May 29 - June 1, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Auction of US, World Coins and Currency, 63/Lot# 1883 $115,000.00
7/7/2011 NGC MS 63   Heritage Auctions 2011 July Orlando Summer FUN Signature US Coin Auction Session(2), 1157/Lot# 4420 $74,750.00
6/27/2014 NGC Details UNC Details  Stack's Bowers June 2014 Baltimore, 6021/Lot# 2377 $39,362.50
8/5/2014 PCGS MS 62   Heritage Auctions 2014 August 5, 7 & 9 ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Chicago Session(4), 1208/Lot# 5773 $82,250.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1915 S ROUND PANAMA-PACIFIC $50 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base77677918807182268383900793079622965696909854101351091911529121781286614619166511850568833121427134561
781779698123827885919107941296339667974599481039611122117451240713450152961726935281863641258050
0000009412963396679745994810396111221174512407134501529617269352818636400
000000951796459679979910041106581132611962126371403515974178875205710389600
Competitive Registry Sets
CategoriesSets
Gold Commemoratives 1903-1926 85
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 65
Points: 15296
Owner: RDN
 
Grade: MS 64
Points: 12866
Owner: BillJones
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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