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Commems Collection: 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition - Gold Quintuple Eagle

 
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 Posted 08/06/2022  07:08 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
For the history of the path the bill that authorized the Panama-Pacific International Exposition ("Pan-Pac Expo") coins took in Congress, see: 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition - Gold Dollar.) This post focuses specifically on the Quintuple Eagle ($50) coin and its two varieties.

The commemorative coin program for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition included five coins: a silver half dollar, a gold dollar, a gold quarter eagle and a pair of gold quintuple eagles ($50 coins) - all were included in the same coin bill. Each of the gold denominations was designed by a different artist; Robert Aitken was selected to create the designs for the gold quintuple eagles.

The coin Act specified a maximum mintage of 3,000 $50 coins, with half of the mintage "similar in shape to the octagonal $50 gold pieces issued in California in eighteen hundred and fifty-one." This provision created the two varieties of the coin: round and octagonal. The coins share a common design with both sides incorporating elements of ancient mythology; on the octagonal variety, small, stylized dolphins were added to each side in the coin's eight corners to fill in the empty space. IMO, without the octagonal specification in the bill/Act, it is unlikely that the Mint would have created such a variety.

On the obverse of each coin is seen a left-facing portrait of Minerva - the Roman goddess of "wisdom and statecraft" (1) Over time, Minerva began to also be worshiped as the goddess of War. As such, it is common to see her depicted wearing a feather-crested helmet as was done on the Pan-Pac $50 coins. Minerva is generally considered a parallel to Athena of Greek mythology. Note also the inclusion of "IN GOD WE TRUST" - at the time, it was not yet a standard element of US commemorative coins.

On the reverse, an owl is presented perched on a pine tree branch with multiple pine cones. The owl's meaning as a sign of wisdom and knowledge dates to Greek mythology, though earlier cultures also assigned symbolism to the owl. For example, the ancient Egyptians considered the owl to be the protector of souls that had passed on to the Underworld. Pine cones have also long had symbolic meaning attached to them, enlightenment and fertility are among the most common assigned meanings. On the coin, the "fertility" symbolism is in regards to the prosperity to be found in America and the American West. Also included is the motto, "E PLURIBUS UNUM." It shared the honor of being the first US commemorative coin to feature the motto along with its Pan-Pac Expo "brother." the gold Quarter Eagle.

As noted above, the coins were designed by Robert Aitken who also created the designs for the 1921 Missouri Statehood Centennial half dollar and the 1935-36 California-Pacific International Exposition half dollar (aka "San Diego"); the San Diego was another Aitken design that featured mythology via its depiction of Minerva.

The San Francisco Branch Mint struck the coins in June, July and August 1915. 1,509 Octagonal coins were struck (609 in June, 900 in August, 9 for assay purposes) and 1,510 Round coins were struck between July and August (409 in July, 1,101 in August, 10 for assay purposes). Special presses used to strike medals were brought in from the Philadelphia Mint to facilitate the striking of the large $50 gold coins.

The coins sold for $100 each (i.e., double their face value) and came in specially-created leather cases. As with the other Pan-Pac Expo gold coins, the coins did not sell out. Total sales for the Round variety were 483 coins; for the Octagonal variety, sales reached 645 coins. The balance were returned to the Mint and melted.

The two coins are, without question, the keys to the general-release classic US commemorative coin series.

I find the designs on the Pan-Pac Expo Quintuple Eagles to be attractive and medal-like. The over-sized planchets allowed Aitken to craft strong designs that capitalized on the "real estate" available. The designs have multiple elements, but are not over-crowded.


Panama-Pacific International Exposition Gold Quintuple Eagle - Round Variety


Panama-Pacific International Exposion Gold Quintuple Eagle - Octagonal Variety

(Image Credit: Images of both varieties courtesy of Heritage Auctions, http://www.ha.com. Maybe someday I will be able to post images of mine, someday...)


For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, including more on the other coins of the Pan-Pac Expo set, see: Commems Collection.


Works Cited

1. Kelsey, Francis. An Outline of Greek and Roman Mythology. Boston : Allyn and Bacon, 1889. p 33.



Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 08/06/2022  07:38 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add smat45 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Another great read...
Now I remember why as a kid in Grade School we had to learn how to read Roman numerals
: )
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 Posted 08/06/2022  09:13 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Unforgettable designs on this issue.
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 Posted 08/06/2022  09:42 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
About 15 years ago I had an an example of both of these, sitting in the palm of my hand at a public auction view day.
Never to be forgotten experience.
Impressive, tactile, - 4 ounces of gold in total, and visually spectacular.

Since all of these have been handled with reverence, never expect to see an example in actuality, or on pictures, in less than MS-62 condition.

Morgan designed a 50 Dollar Half Union, and there were proposals to produce a $100 Union, but no such $100 Union coins exist.
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 Posted 08/06/2022  10:34 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
About 15 years ago I had an an example of both of these, sitting in the palm of my hand at a public auction view day.

I had a similar experience years back while having a special tour of the coin vault of the Smithsonian Institution with my local coin club.

The curator asked each of us what we wanted to see, and I immediately said "The Pan-Pac $50s!" It was quite an experience to hold the two varieties in my hands at the same time - one I won't forget! (I'll admit though, the fact that the coins were raw and not in any type of holder made me a little nervous!)


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 08/06/2022  11:49 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hokiefan_82 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks, commems. These two coins are beautiful and while I'd admired them in pictures over the years, I'll always remember the first time seeing examples in person at a large coin show.
My U.S. Type Set: https://www.NGCcoin.com/registry/co...sets/278808/
My U.S. Classic Commemorative Complete Set: https://www.NGCcoin.com/registry/co...sets/278741/
My 20th Century U.S. Type Set - Proofs only, No Gold https://www.ngccoin.com/registry/co...sets/396301/
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 Posted 08/06/2022  7:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Fascinating story of a coin that endures through time - alas likely never to join my collection.
Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.jk-dk.art
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
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 Posted 08/07/2022  3:30 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Kopper Ken to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Really educational...let's see what we get for ...MMXXVI...celebrating our CCL anniversary.


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