Images Courtesy of Heritage Auctions, HA.com
1915 Octagonal Pan-Pac Fifty, SP65 Red
Obverse and Reverse Hubs Trial
Sold for: $186,000.00
1915 DT$50 Panama-Pacific Octagonal Fifty Dollar, Judd-A1915-3, Unique, SP65 Red PCGS. CAC.
The octagonal 1915 Panama-Pacific fifty dollar gold pieces were intended to capture the romance and historic appeal of the old fifty dollar slugs issued by the United States Assay Office in San Francisco from 1851-1853. The design was conceived by California-born artist Robert Aitken. The obverse features the helmeted goddess Minerva (who also appears on the arms of the State of California) inside a circle with the legend UNITED.STATES.OF.AMERICA. above and FIFTY.DOLLARS. below. The reverse displays an owl (symbolic of wisdom) perched on a branch of western pine inside a circle with the legend PANAMA.PACIFIC.EXPOSITION. above and SAN FRANCISCO. below. Dolphins appear in the angles of the octagonal corners, outside the circle on both sides.
The present piece is a unique hubs trial of these dies struck on an oversized copper planchet. It was probably in the fabulous collection of Virgil Brand for many years, and made its only auction appearance as lot 2249 of the Brand-Lichtenfels, et al Collections (Kreisberg/Schulman, 3/1964):
"$50 PANAMA-PACIFIC TRIAL PIECE. To test the die prior to the striking in gold an impression of the $50 Octagonal die both obverse and reverse was struck on a round copper planchet (60 mm in diameter). We have never seen any other such trial piece offered. Possibly unique. Perfect condition. Mounted in a custom plastic case. PLATE."
Of course, the cataloger of this lot misspoke slightly, as the impression was taken from the hubs used to impress the die and not the die itself. Thus, this piece shows the mirror image of the devices that actually appear on the coins. Razor-sharp definition is evident throughout and the well-preserved surfaces of this impressive Gem radiate vibrant mint luster. A medium-size carbon spot at 3 o'clock on the obverse is the only mark of note. Anthony Swiatek purchased this hubs trial from Sol Kaplan at a coin show in Shaker Heights, Ohio in 1971. It remained off the market until we handled it as part of our January 2015 FUN Signature sale. For those who missed out, here is another rare opportunity to add this unique hubs trial to a fine collection of commemorative coins or Panama-Pacific International Exposition material.
Ex: Brand-Lichtenfels, et al Collections (Kreisberg/Schulman, 3/1964), lot 2249; Sol Kaplan (1971); Anthony Swiatek; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2015), lot 4508; Coins and Banknotes Auction (Bonhams, 12/2016), lot 236.
From The Centennial Celebration Collection.