1915-S Panama-Pacific Exposition $50 Round with Box of Issue
The Congressional act that authorized the United States Mint to strike $50 gold coins for sale in conjunction with the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition specified that a total of 3,000 pieces could be produced. Since initial sales for these impressive, large-size gold coins went fairly well, the authorities decided to proceed to strike the entire allotment. The delivery was split evenly between Round and Octagonal examples, with a few extra pieces of each type struck for assay purposes. Sales eventually lagged, however, the asking price of $100 per coin proving too steep among exposition attendees. Five coin sets containing one example each of the Panama-Pacific half dollar, gold dollar, quarter eagle, and the two fifty-dollar variants cost $200 mounted in a copper frame under glass, while a double set mounted to show the obverse and reverse of each was listed for $400. Although Farran Zerbe continued to sell these coins via mail order after the exposition closed, Treasury Secretary William McAdoo eventually pulled the plug on November 1, 1916 and ordered the return of all remaining examples to the Mint for destruction. A total of 1,017 Round and 85 Octagonal coins were melted, leaving net mintages of 483 and 645 pieces, respectively.
As a representative of the rarer of the two Pan-Pac $50 varieties, this premium-quality example certainly has few equals in numismatic circles regardless of whether one places more emphasis on technical quality or aesthetic appeal. Exceptionally well-preserved surfaces are silent on the subject of grade-limiting and/or distracting handling marks, the surfaces overall smooth in appearance. Satiny mint luster and warm, yellow-gold color blanket both sides and further enhance already memorable eye appeal. Sharply struck, and readily revealing every aspect of this classic and richly symbolic design, this beautiful piece is certain to have no difficulty finding its way into one of the finest Commemorative collections assembled. The included black box of issue is in good condition with the purple velveteen interior intact. It is lettered in gold: PANAMA-PACIFIC EXPOSITION 1915 - SAN FRANCISCO - U.S.A. COMMEMORATIVE COINS AUTHORIZED BY ACT OF CONGRESS STRUCK AT SAN FRANCISCO MINT. A small distraction, the latch does not work correctly which is a common malady for the Pan-Pac boxes. (PCGS 7451)