Every month, the US Mint’s History In your Pocket (H.I.P) program chooses one coin to feature and provides education materials for teachers to use in teaching history using numismatics. This month’s coin is the 1915 Panama-Pacific $50 commemorative coin.
Minted to commemorate the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco that celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and rebuilding of San Francisco following the Great Earthquake of 1906. The Mint created five different commemoratives for the exposition including an octagonal gold coin with a $50 face value. Its unusual shape makes it intriguing.
Robert Aitken, a New York artist born in San Francisco, was selected to design the fifty dollar round and octagonal coins. The obverse is based on the Roman goddess Minerva and an owl on the reverse to symbolize wisdom. Although the coin was ridiculed as not having American symbols. But the designs are well executed and appreciated by collectors today.