US Coins

Multiple hues grace this 1915-S Pac-Pan half dollar

By all accounts the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco from Feb. 20 to Dec. 4, 1915, was magnificent.

The fair cele­brated the completion of the Panama Canal, but also served as a very public display of the city’s recovery after a devastating 1906 earthquake. Like the 1892 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the buildings built for the San Francisco exposition were constructed with temporary materials so most of the buildings are long gone, but the fair lives on through classic commemorative coins.  

Here is one of three sold during Heritage's 2017 FUN auctions that we profile in this Market Analysis:

The Lot:

1915-S Panama-Pacific International Exposition commemorative half dollar, MS-67, CAC

The Coin:


The Price:

Among the five denominations and six coins issued for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition — the two gold $50 pieces, a gold $2.50 quarter eagle, a gold dollar, and a silver half dollar — the latter is the most common, with a mintage of 27,134 coins. Examples were sold at the fair for $1, making them a relatively affordable souvenir. Still, as with the gold $50 pieces, many more were struck than actually sold. Of the 60,000 half dollars produced, more than half were melted.

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Examples often showcase beautiful rainbow toning that highlights Charles Barber’s pretty obverse and George Morgan’s handsome reverse design. On this one Heritage writes, “At the periphery, a band of salmon-pink coloration is bordered by thin, successive rings of sea-green, lavender, and russet toning that flow into a variegated pool of ice-blue and platinum hues in the center. The reverse is an even silver-gray tone.”

The Professional Coin Grading Service Mint State 67 stunner, with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, sold for $29,375, a price comparable to what MS-68 examples bring. For comparison, Heritage sold two PCGS MS-67 examples this fall for $4,465 and $4,935.

Analyzing more Pan-Pac items sold at FUN:

Pan-Pac medal soldSold for nearly $200,000, this Pan-Pac gold ‘slug’ is a show-stopper:The octagonal Panama-Pacific International Exposition gold $50 “slugs” are show-stoppers for collectors and noncollectors alike.

Pan-Pac gold quarter eagleWhat one of the finest known Pan-Pac gold quarter eagle sold for:Like the half dollar, the Pan-Pac quarter eagle was a collaboration between two legends: Charles Barber and George Morgan.

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