About 1915-S Panama-Pacific Silver Commemoratives
The 1915-S Panama-Pacific half dollar is one of the earlier silver issues in the silver commemorative series and is also one of the most numismatically important. It was struck to commemorate the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, which hosted this most ostentatious world’s fair just nine years after the City By The Bay was devastated by the horrific 1906 earthquake. Most of San Francisco crumbled or burned in the disaster, with the San Francisco Mint left as one of the few buildings standing in the city after the tragedy.
The Pan-Pac half dollars were sold individually for $1 apiece, though they formed one fifth of a complete set of Panama-Pacific commemoratives that also include the popular Panama-Pacific gold dollar, Pan-Pac $2.50 quarter eagle, and the $50 Pan-Pac round and octagonal coins. Needless to say, very few of the complete sets were sold due to the high cost of the $50 gold coins.
The 1915-S Panana-Pacific half dollar represents a collaboration of two great coin designers, with Charles E. Barber designing the obverse portrait of Columbia and the golden gate, while George T. Morgan crafted the majestic reverse portrait of a heraldic eagle somewhat reminiscent of his eagle from the reverse of the Liberty Head (Morgan) dollar.
More than 60,000 Pan-Pac halves were struck, though thousands went unsold, accounting for the net distribution of just over 27,000 pieces. The majority of known specimens are in uncirculated grades, with most in the MS63-64 range. MS65 and MS66 specimens are scarce, and pieces grading higher are rare.
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