1915-S Panama Pacific $50 Octagonal PCGS MS64 CAC
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102 years ago, almost to this very day, San Francisco was rocked by an earthquake the likes of which it had never seen. Even now, it’s one of the most significant earthquakes in history.
A silverware salesman described it as “the most terrible disaster that ever befell a state or city.”
Imagine being there:
At 5:12am, you — and everyone in the San Francisco Bay Area — feel a foreshock, a slight tremble. You think nothing of it.
20 seconds later, your bed starts bucking like a bronco as a noise "like the roar of 10,000 lions" booms through the air. You’re thrown to the floor.
Dishes crash to the floor. Plaster falls from the ceiling in chunks. You choke on the dust that starts to fill the air.
As you make your way out of your house and to the street, you look back and see a house in ruins.
You look above to the sky and see great clouds rising above the city — the fires have started. And they will continue to rage for four long days. More than 500 blocks in the city center are leveled.
And when it’s all over, the arduous task of reconstruction begins, carried out by the persistence and courage of local residents.
Part of that reconstruction was rebuilding San Francisco to be earthquake- and fire-resistant. And part of it was...
The Party of all Parties: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
In 1915, a proud San Francisco invited the world to see its recovery at the expo, which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal. And what a recovery it was.
Constructed over a 635-acre site, the expo showcased a number of marvels. Perhaps the most stunning was the Tower of Jewels, a 43-story tower on which hung 100,000 pieces of crystal and polished glass. The tower glittered magnificently in the sunshine, as if covered with gems.
More than 18 million visitors from around the world strolled the expo’s broad promenades, took in the educational presentations, and “travelled” to other countries in the international pavilions.
Today, very little of the expo remains. But what remains is stunning. Congress authorized the San Francisco Mint to strike a series of commemorative coins for the expo, and the most impressive of all of them is the $50 gold octagonal piece.
When you hold it in your hand, the first thing you notice is that it’s unlike holding any other coin. The $50 octagonal has exceptional weight and substance, and its flat, reeded edges and corners are fascinating. There’s nothing else quite like it!
The design is also unique. Instead of the usual Lady Liberty, you see the goddess Minerva, symbolizing what wisdom and industry produced in the Panama Canal. And on the reverse, you see an owl perched on a branch of ponderosa pine. Many critics have hailed the design as one of the finest the U.S. Mint has ever produced.
Hundreds of $50 octagonals were melted down, resulting in a total net mintage of only 645. And because they’re massive, made of gold (a relatively soft metal), and originally bought mostly by non-collectors, it’s extremely difficult to find specimens above MS63.
A LITTLE STICKER MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE.
Within each number of the coin grading scale is a small range of condition from low-end to high-end. Certified coins of the same grade can be of varying quality. Many of today’s collectors want coins that are solid or premium quality for their assigned grade. CAC holds coins to a higher standard so you can be confident in the value of yours. We verify previously graded coins … and award our sticker only to those coins that meet the standard for today’s selective buyer.
WHAT THE CAC STICKER MEANS:
- Verified. Your coin has been verified as meeting the standard for strict quality within its grade.
- Guaranteed. CAC stands behind our verification.
THE CAC STICKER IS BACKED BY EXPERIENCE.
CAC was founded by leading members of the numismatic community, including John Albanese, a respected authority on coin grading and the rare coin market.