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1915-S Panama-Pacific Round NGC MS65+

2023-10-04 18:02:00
1915-S Panama-Pacific Round NGC MS65+

1915-S Panama-Pacific Round NGC MS65+

Jack McNamara's Live Auction Featured Coin

Thursday, October 5th, 2023


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Our Private Advisory Coin Team has early access to our weekly auction coins. Pre-bidding is now open for this week's stunning selections. Call our Private Advisory Coin team at (800) 778-0624 to join our auction bidding. Your Personal Advisor can accept your confidential bid for this coin.


  • Mintage: 483
  • NGC Population: 7/24
  • PCGS Population: 9/4
  • CU Price Guide: $260,000
  • Finest Known: MS67 (5) – No records of any trading publicly. Anticipated to bring approximately $500,000.
  • The idea of creating a water passage across the isthmus of Panama to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to facilitate global trade dates back to at least the 1500s, when King Charles I of Spain tapped his regional governor to survey a route along the Chagres River.
  • A first attempt at the task was performed by France in 1880 but due to the many difficulties the project was ultimately defunded in 1888 with minimal impact made.
  • Following the French failure President Theodore Roosevelt purchased the French assets for $40 million in 1902. The project officially began with a dedication ceremony on May 4, 1904.
  • Throughout the construction process the workers faced many dangers from disease such as malaria and yellow fever to unpredictable landslides and dynamite explosions. By the end of construction of the 56,000 workers that were employed, approximately 5,600 reportedly died in the effort.
  • On August 15, 1914, after nearly 240 million cubic yards of rock and dirt were excavated and 3.4 million cubic meters of concrete was laid the Panama Canal officially opened with a complete cost of more than $350 million, making it the most expensive construction project in U.S. history to that point.
  • In 1915, San Francisco hosted the Panama-Pacific Exposition to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal and to commemorate the event the United States mint struck a variety of coins in silver and gold, including a Gold Dollar, $2.5 Gold, $50 Gold Octagonal and $50 Gold Round.
  • Apart from patterns and semi-official Territorial gold coins, the United States had never produced a $50 gold piece to this point and would not there after until modern American Gold Eagles were struck in 1986. This also marked the first and only time the U.S. Mint struck an octagonal piece.
  • Certainly, the most rare and valuable of the group and early gold commemoratives were the $50 Gold Round and Octagonal as the Mint struck 1509 Octagonal and 1510 Round pieces for the Exposition but because of the high cost of the coins and sets very few actually sold.
  • Of the 1509 $50 Gold Octagonals only 645 were sold to the public and even fewer of the $50 Gold Rounds were sold as less than a third were purchased with only 483 of the 1510 selling, the remaining coins were destroyed.
  • The $50 Round ranks as one of the great numismatic rarities of the Twentieth Century.
  • Designed by Robert I. Aitken, the obverse of the $50 Pan-Pac Rounds features the Roman goddess Minerva, patron of wisdom, philosophy, and righteous war with the Roman numerals for 1915  “MCMXV”. The words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FIFTY DOLLARS” surround the design.
  • The reverse depicts an owl, a common symbol of Minerva, perched atop a ponderosa pine tree branch while the inscription “PANAMA-PACIFIC EXPOSITION SAN FRANCISCO” surround the design.
  • These large gold commemorative coins containing 2.4186 troy ounces of gold each are highly elusive and desirable to collectors due to the low survival rate. While they are sought after in any condition they become increasingly difficult to locate Gem condition or higher.
  • Though both the $50 Rounds and Octagonals are coveted by collectors in high grades, the $50 Pan-Pac Round is the scarcer of the two versions as with roughly 15% of all examples surviving in MS65 condition or finer.
  • Taking it a step further a drastic drop occurs in the population at MS66 condition or finer as a little over 3% of examples have survived in such condition. As such, a Pan-Pac Round in MS66 is expected to cost approximately $400,000+ making the current MS65+ specimen the perfect absolute and conditional rarity for an advanced collection!