Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 62

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Lot 2366

1915-S Panama Pacific $50 Round. NGC graded MS-65. Lovely light golden toning. Only 483 pieces struck. Exceedingly attractive, as one might expect given the Gem MS65 classification; though what really sets this coin apart from others is its powerful satin-smooth luster, the sort of sheen that twinkles over each side unaffected by blemishes or toning spots. We are doubly impressed by the coin's superb, convincing design detail in all areas of this important coin. Not even the slightest amount of flatness occurs on the key features!

Five coins comprise the Panama-Pacific group, in addition, there were complete sets mounted in metal frames or leather cases sold for $200. Many sales were made to banks and private individuals, so one would expect a fair number of high grade examples, especially of the two $50 "prestige" gold denominations. This is not the case. Gems are a challenge to find (see grading census below). The larger the denomination, it seems, the more difficult to locate. Some were presumably carried as pocket-souvenirs. When all was said and done, only 483 Round $50 gold pieces were sold. It can be stated authoritatively (though no separate accounts were kept in this regard) that many landed in the hands of the non-collecting public; others may have been melted after the federal government nationalized America's gold coins in 1933. We estimate there are 200 or so of the round $50 pieces left in existence.

Today the five different commemoratives of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition stand as the high-water mark of early 20th century American coinage. The $50 is unique in the U.S. federal system, both as to denomination at the time ($50) and dimensions (two and one-half ounces of 900 Fine gold). The creative talent goes to Robert Aitken, a noted sculptor and coin designer whose handiwork depicts Minerva, goddess of the harvest, wearing a Corinthian plumed helmet. An owl perched upon a pine branch occupies the reverse. It has been observed that the wisdom of owls is overrated. The specialists who trained Harry Potter's Hedwig and worked the various owls on the movie sets, said owls are little more than flying sharks -- sophisticated eating machines with only enough brains to get along with. But that is neither here nor there, since Minerva's owl on this lovely specimen is a golden and proud creation by the artist, making this one of the all-time favorite U.S. commemorative gold pieces. A resplendent way to memorialize the occasion is with this well struck MS65 Gem $50 Round gold coin. Pop 43; 27 finer.
Estimated Value $90,000 - 100,000.

Realized $115,000

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