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