US Coins

$200,000 for show-stopping Pan-Pac gold coin

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 gold $50 slug, MS-66

The Price:


The Story:

The octagonal Panama-Pacific International Exposition gold $50 “slugs” are show-stoppers for collectors and noncollectors alike. Two types of gold $50 pieces designed by Robert I. Aitken were minted in 1915 at the San Francisco Mint: round and octagonal. Of the two, the octagonal is more common with a distribution of 645 pieces, versus 483 round examples. The 1915 cost of $100 per coin was prohibitive to all but the wealthiest buyers and though 1,500 of each type were struck, many were melted due to tepid demand.

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Today there is massive demand for both types, which are rarely found in top Gem grades since many were purchased by noncollectors and subsequently handled. On Jan. 5 Heritage offered an octagonal example graded Mint State 66 by Professional Coin Grading Service — one of the finest known — that sold for $199,750.

Analyzing more Pan-Pac items sold at FUN:

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.

Toned Pan-Pac half dollarMultiple hues grace this 1915 Pac-Pan commemorative half dollar sold at FUN:Examples often showcase beautiful rainbow toning that highlights Charles Barber’s pretty obverse and George Morgan’s handsome reverse design.

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