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INDIAN HEAD TEN DOLLARS OR GOLD EAGLE (1907-1933)

1915 Indian Head Eagle


The 1915 Indian Head Eagle is the final Indian Head eagle produced during the 1910's and production of the denomination at the Philadelphia mint was discontinued until 1926. It is a fairly common date that is well-regarded for its aesthetic appeal and popular with type collectors.

1915 Indian Head Eagle NGC PF67
PCGS No: 8878, 8897
Mintage Circulation strikes: 351,000
Proofs: 75
Designer: Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Diameter: ±26.8 millimeters
Metal content: Gold - 90%
Copper - 10%
Weight: ±258 grains (±16.7 grams)
Edge: Raised stars
Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia, PA) left of the arrowheads on the reverse.

This is a very well struck issue which typically has complete detail on the eagle's hair and the eagle's feathers. A few are seen with weakness at the centers but locating a sharply detailed example will prove to be easy for the collector.

Many 1915 gold eagles are abraded and this makes Gem Uncirculated examples scarcer than most people realize.

The luster on this issue is excellent with the typical example possessing thick, frosty luster that lacks the grainy textures seen on the branch mint Indian Head eagles from this era.

Few dates in this series show better coloration than the 1915. It is possible to locate examples with splendid rich natural coloration including deep green-gold, rose or orange-gold hues.

The 1915 is generally seen with excellent eye appeal. Most are well struck and nicely toned with good luster. It can be hard to find a piece which is not heavily abraded.

There were 75 Proofs minted in 1915 with the same coarse finish that was seen on the 1914 examples. This represents the last year that Proofs were minted. An estimated two dozen or so Proofs are known to exist and most are in the PR64 to PR66 range.

The 1915 is a relatively common date which is well-known for its good eye appeal. It is easy to find in grades up to and including MS64 but Gems are not readily available and probably no more than four or five dozen pieces are known. In MS66 and higher grades, the 1915 is rare. The finest graded by PCGS is an MS67; NGC shows three in this grade with none better.

The 1915 gold eagle is another common Philadelphia Mint issue that boasts strong luster, great strikes, and availability in grades including MS-66. In terms of those graded in MS-65 or higher, the 1915 issue ranks 25th of the 32 coin series. Sharp and attractively made, this date stands out as one of the finer examples of this design to come off the dies. Three superb gem MS-67 examples have been graded between the two services.

THE BARBER-ST. GAUDENS DESIGN, WITH MOTTO (1908-33)

Less than a year after adoption of the St. Gaudens design, an outraged and furious Congress (probably goaded by vociferous clergy) ordered that the motto IN GOD WE TRUST be forthwith restored to the coinage, as mandated by the Act of March 3, 1865. The 1907 issues and the first ones of 1908 had lacked this motto because Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, on religious grounds (Dutch Reformed Church and Freemasonry), believed that placing the name of God on currency was a debasement amounting to blasphemy. After all, these coins bearing the name of God were likely too often to be dropped, stepped on, used in rigged gambling or for hiring assassins or buying murder weapons.

Congressmen, of course, had forgotten about the jeers which greeted the original addition of this motto to our coins. Many even in the 1860s recognized that it was likely to be misread or satirically rendered, as in fact happened; "In Gold We Trust" and "In God We Trust-All Others Must Pay Cash" became mock slogans heard to the present day. Others assumed that the proper name of the god worshipped by the owners-and possibly some of the makers-was Mammon.

Nevertheless, Congress insisted on flinging this particular lump of incense onto the altar, even as-in one of the weirder coincidences-the British Parliament was to do three years later when George V's new 1911 Canadian "Godless" coins omitted the traditional initials D.G. (= DEI GRATIA, 'By the grace of God'). Possibly the congressmen were more concerned with proving that they were not atheists than with preserving separation of church and state.

The new design with motto is by Charles E. Barber, after St. Gaudens. Aside from the addition of the motto, none of Barber's niggling changes are defensible as improvements unless one insists that more of the first U of UNUM had to show. Nor is striking quality improved.

Denver Mint coins 1908-10 continue the extra broad mint-mark, tilted so as to follow the curve of border, as on 7099; later dates show a much smaller mintmark. S mintmarks are always small, also following the curve of border.
Coins dated 1908-11 have 46 stars on edge as before; 1912-33, 48 stars, the extra two being added to honor the admission of Arizona and New Mexico. Edges continued to be imparted by segmented (tripartite) collars.

All proofs 1908-15 are much rarer than their mintage figures suggest; notably rarer than most dates 1897-1907. Many were melted in 1917 as unsold, others spent during the 1921 and 1929-33 financial crises. These proofs have finishes differing from one year to another.

Before 1920 no dates or mintmarks are rare in ordinary grades, though some are Ex. rare choice. Thereafter, only two dates are readily obtainable: 1926 and 1932. In my experience, 1920 S is rarer than 1930 S or 1933. For some decades one 1930 S turned up in the San Francisco area every three years, probably from a single roll. The 1933 is usually considered rarest, only a few dozen at most legally released in Jan.-Feb. 1933. About 1952 a small hoard, possibly 20-30 in all, probably the majority of the coins issued, showed up on the East Coast. (I studied eight of them on a single tray in 1953: gem mint-state beauties.) A few others turned up later, from French and Swiss banks. No hoard of 1920 S ever appeared, though since 1980 possibly four or five have returned from Europe, and reportedly 10 more were found in upper New York State. Most of these late dates only come UNC. with varying amounts of bag marks, testifying to their long residence in bank cash reserves.

THE BARBER-ST. GAUDENS DESIGN, WITH MOTTO
Designer, Engraver, Charles E. Barber, after St. Gaudens. Mints, Philadelphia (no mintmark), San Francisco (mintmark S), Denver (D). Mintmark opposite or below arrow points. Physical Specifications, Authorizing Acts, as before.
Grade range and standards, as before. NOTE: Not collected in low grades.

Rarity Ranking:
Overall Rarity (All grades): 23rd of 32
High Grade Rarity (MS65 & higher): 25th of 32



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1915 Indian Head Eagle - 1915 Gold Eagle

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