Classic Panama-Pacific International Expo gold coins in Heritage auction

Paul Denby Collecton being offered at Central States Numismatic Society convention
By , Coin World
Published : 04/08/16
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Heritage Auctions is set to offer the Paul Denby Collection of U.S. gold commemorative coins at its auctions held during the Central States Numismatic Society convention in Schaumburg, Ill., April 27 to 30. 

Denby’s collection is the number one Current and All-Time Finest Gold Commemoratives Professional Coin Grading Service Registry Set in circulation strike format. Eight of the 13 coins in the core set are the finest-known examples, with three others bested by a single certified example. 

Denby spent more than a decade putting the set together, starting in 2003, guided by a simple core philosophy: “If the coin looked right, I’d buy it,” he said. 

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Perhaps the highlight is his set of gold issues struck in 1915 at the San Francisco Mint commemorating the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. His octagonal 1915-S Panama-Pacific $50 piece grades PCGS MS-65 with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker while his round 1915-S $50 coin grades PCGS MS-64. 

The octagonal pieces were exciting to buyers at the time and outsold the round ones, though the extraordinary cost of the issue kept sales low; just 645 of the octagonal coins and 483 of the round ones sold. Both were massive with over 2 ounces of gold, but the octagonal version had slightly smaller central designs with dolphins surrounding the edges on both sides. Both of Denby’s are among the finest known. 

The collection’s 1915-S Panama-Pacific gold $2.50 quarter eagle grades PCGS MS-67 CAC while his 1915-S gold dollar is PCGS MS-67. 

Holders and ephemera

Five different original holders for 1915-S Panama-Pacific coins will be offered as a single lot, showcasing the variations used in marketing these coins. Most familiar to collectors today is the Shreve & Co. copper and glass frame that would hold each of the five different issues. Heritage notes that the subject frame is one of about 30 known today and is in exceptional condition with its inserts, glass, screws and velvet interior intact. 

The lot also includes black leatherette cases with rich purple velvet-covered interiors, with a five-slot case for all five coin types; a four-slot case with slots for the half dollar, gold dollar, quarter eagle and octagonal $50; a three-slot holder for the half dollar, gold dollar and quarter eagle; and a case for a single Panama-Pacific International Exposition octagonal $50 piece. 

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