Coin Specifications

Category: Gold Commemoratives (1903-1926)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 483
Obverse Designer: Robert Aitken
Reverse Designer: Robert Aitken
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 83.5900g
AGW: 2.4186oz
Melt Value: $4285.76 (7/5/2020)
Diameter: 44mm
Edge: Reeded
Link to this coin

1915 S ROUND PANAMA-PACIFIC $50 MS obverse 1915 S ROUND PANAMA-PACIFIC $50 MS reverse
Expand All    Collapse All

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.


Loading... Working...

Use the scroll bar at the bottom of this box to view a summary of the NGC Price Guide, NGC Census, Auction Prices Realized and NGC Registry Scores for each grade.

There was no data found for this Coin.

Select Designation


Select Grade

Price Guide

Last Updated: 5/22/2020

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

Base $ - - - 34500 48500 60500 61500 63500 69000 69000 75000 77500 105000 130000 195000 265000 390000 - - -
$ - - - - - - - - 120000 150000 225000 315000 - -

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer



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

The chart showing 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series, 65 series, 66 series, 67 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 6/30/2020 1915 S ROUND $50 PANAMA-PACIFIC MS

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1915 S ROUND $50 PANAMA-PACIFIC MS
Competitive Registry Sets
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 65
Points: 15296
Owner: RDN
Grade: MS 65
Points: 14619
Owner: Rose Collection
View the Registry Image Gallery

Related Articles

Philadelphia ANA - A Collector's Marathon!

8/23/2012 — Stacks Bowers Sale Claims Nearly $42 Million; Extraordinary NGC 1793 Chain Cent Captures $747,500–World Coins Generate Strong Results
View full article >
Rare Coins Remain Safe Haven; Baltimore Next Port of Call

6/14/2012 — Heritage Long Beach Auction claims $12.6 Million. 2012 American Eagle San Francisco Two–Coin Silver Proof Sets take flight.
View full article >
Quality Leads the Way in $12 Million Heritage Long Beach Auction

6/14/2011 — A 1795 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar with Two Leaves was the top coin in the auction.
View full article >
NGC-Certified Coins Show Incredible Strength at September Heritage Long Beach Auction

10/9/2008 — Coins certified by NGC across many series recently starred in the most valuable auction Heritage has held in two decades of Long Beach events.
View full article >
Finest Known NGC Certified Pan-Pac Set to be Displayed

3/1/2006 — The finest known set of 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition commemorative coins will return to the Bay Area for the first time in 91 years to be exhibited during the Santa Clara Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo.
View full article >
NGC Certifies Finest Set of Gold Commems

9/1/2004 — A complete set of United States gold commemorative coins has been graded and encapsulated by NGC. It includes several finest certified pieces.
View full article >

NGC Auction Central Disclaimer