Stack's Bowers - The September 2011 Philadelphia Americana Sale Lot #5759

  • NGC
  • 63
  • CAC
  • N

1915-S Panama-Pacific Exposition $50. Round. MS-63 (NGC).

Choice Mint State 1915-S Pan-Pac $50

Deep honey gold with bright yellow mint frost, heady luster, and grand overall eye appeal. Obverse head of Athena, goddess and protector of Athens, to left in plumed battle helmet within beaded circle, shield at shoulder adorned with the date MCMXV -- nowhere does the date 1915 appear; perhaps this should be known as the MCMXV-S -- IN GOD WE TRUST on two lines above her portrait, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FIFTY DOLLARS around. Reverse with Athena's familiar, the wise old owl of antiquity and the symbol of ancient Athens, perched on a branch with pine cones, all within a beaded circle, tiny S mintmark near four o'clock, E PLURIBUS UNUM on three lines immediately behind the owl, PANAMA-PACIFIC EXPOSITION SAN FRANCISCO around. Arguably one of the most beautiful of coin designs in American numismatics (the present [FVV] writer's favorite by a long shot), the Panama-Pacific $50 gold "slugs" designed by Robert Aitken are as cherished today as ever. Sold at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, 1,510 pieces were struck in the round format including 10 for assay purposes. Of the 1,500 offered for sale at the Exposition, only 483 pieces were purchased, with the balance melted after the fact. Today, these pieces are far more treasured than in their day, and the presence of a "Pan-Pac slug" in any commemorative cabinet is a mark of high distinction and accomplishment. The bidding for the present problem-free example will be fast and furious, as is always the case, so if you mean to own an MCMXV-S Panama-Pacific $50 gold piece in the round format, have at it now and don't be shy.