The Panama-Pacific International Exposition Opened 107 Years Ago

On February 20, 1915 the Panama-Pacific International Exposition opened in San Francisco, California and hosted over 18,000,000 visitors in the 10 month period that it was open. The purpose of the fair was two-part: one to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, but also to showcase the city’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake.

Numismatics were celebrated at the event in the form of the 1915 gold and silver commemorative coins. The full set of commemoratives contained the $50 octagonal gold coin, the $50 round gold coins, a $2.50 and $1 gold coin, and the commemorative half dollar. The following shows how many coins were minted, melted, and distributed:


Denomination Minted Melted Distributed
$50 Octagonal 1,500 855 645
$50 Round 1,500 1,017 483
$2.50 Gold 10,000 3,251 6,749
$1 Gold 25,000 10,000 15,000
50¢ Silver 60,000 32,866 27,134


As you can see, all of the coins from this Exposition were quite rare. Stack’s Bowers Galleries has a long history of offering these coins at auction. In 2005, Stack’s Bowers Galleries sold a double set of the 1915 commemoratives that was nicely framed and showed the obverse and reverse of the coin. This set sold for $431,250.

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