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Well worn Copper's Blog

06 Jun 2021

1915 $50 Pan-Pacific Commemoratives; Forever Out of Reach

| Well worn Copper

Now that I have completed a set of Classic U.S. Commemoratives in silver, I have not even remotely considered chasing down a set in gold. The one reason being that I would never be able to complete it. The main obstacle of course, are the 1915 Panama -Pacific $50 round and octagon pieces. These coins are out of reach of the average collector today. But they were also out of reach of average collectors when issued back in 1915. One of the main reason U.S. commemoratives stuck with the half dollar because was it was affordable, even when given the average surcharge of 50 cents over face value. So I cannot imagine what was going through the minds of the U.S. Mint when they decided to issue a $50 piece. When adjusted to inflation, $50 in 1915 was valued at $1,322 in 2021. And since these coins were issued at $100 each, that $100 was adjusted to $2,644 in today's dollars. Try to imagine the mint issuing a $1,500 face value coin today, and offering it to collectors for $3,000! Any takers? That's pretty much what collectors were faced with back then. According to The Numismatist, there were about 5,000 serious coin collectors in the United States in1915. Searching thru pocket change for 1909-S VDB's were still the big thing, especially to younger collectors. $50 gold pieces were a sure way to scare off future collectors, but luckily it didn't hurt the hobby. I recently read Q. David Bower's book on the History of U.S. Gold Coinage and was amazed to discover average collectors did not collect $20 Double Eagles prior to 1933, because the face value was too great to to put aside for a piece. I guess what brought all of this to my attention are the current problems with the Mint's 2021 Morgan and Peace Dollars. Sometimes it seems that while the mint is pursuing the want's and need's of collectors, sometimes it also slams the door on their foot.

Comments

Mal_ANA_YN

Level 4

What a great piece of Numismatic history. The closest I will ever come is when my grandpa bought me an Octagon replica as a Coca Cola anniversary piece.

Pawn Stars took one of the octogan's! Dream to have one of these.

thatcoinguy

Level 4

You saw that episode too? I’d love to be whoever picked up that beauty!

I. R. Bama

Level 5

"Sometimes it seems that while the mint is pursuing the want's and need's of collectors, sometimes it also slams the door on their foot." Bingo! Truer words never spoken. Its too bad that such a beautiful coin is out of the reach of almost all collectors.

Kepi

Level 6

I'd love to have one of these! Way out of sight for my budget! haha Enjoyed your blog! ; )

I definitely can not buy this.

Long Beard

Level 5

David Lawrence has one, which I held, graded PCGS MS63 (the round). Asking price? $63,000. That was a "Sorry. Beautiful coin but way above my budget.".

Longstrider

Level 6

The $50 octagon is my no way want piece. A beautiful coin. Very well thought out analogy of our problems today with the mint. I really enjoyed your blog today. Thanks.

Mike

Level 7

They have beautiful Medals from that event! Look into one off them.

Golfer

Level 5

1909 S VDB in pocket change would be nice. Working on my commemorative half dollars. Have a long way to go ! No panama for me.

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