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INDIAN HEAD GOLD EAGLES (1907-1933)
Indian Head Gold Eagle

Indian Head Eagles - Indian Head Gold Eagle was minted from 1907 to 1933. In 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Smithsonian Institution and saw an exhibit of ancient Greek coins. He admired their high relief and bold designs and prevailed upon his friend Augustus Saint-Gaudens who was in failing health to design new gold coinage for the United States. Saint-Gaudens, who agreed with Roosevelt that the country’s coinage was hideous, redesigned the eagle and double eagle coins. Since Saint-Gaudens died in August, 1907, it is believed that the only new coin he actually saw was the gold eagle. The high relief of Saint-Gaudens’ Indian Head Eagle was criticized by Mint Engraver Charles Barber and other Mint workers.

The obverse of Saint-Gaudens’ Indian Head Eagle consisted of a close up profile of a head of Liberty facing left. Above her unrealistic war bonnet were thirteen stars in an arc. Below the truncation was the date. The origin of the profile is Saint-Gaudens’ own statue of Nike which was part of his memorial to General Sherman and can still be seen at the southern entrance to Central Park in New York City. Alice Butler was the model for the sculpture. Originally Saint-Gaudens wanted to place a wreath on Liberty’s head, but President Roosevelt insisted that it be a feathered war bonnet to give the coin a more nationalistic appeal. (Roosevelt also asked Saint-Gaudens to switch the designs of the eagle and double eagle coins. He felt that the close profile was more suited to an eagle size coin and that the striding figure of Liberty was better on the double eagle.)

The reverse of Saint-Gaudens’ Indian Head Eagle shows a powerful standing eagle that is suggestive of Egyptian art. It shows the eagle standing on a bundle of arrows that resemble fasces. In Roman iconography, fasces symbolized the power to kill or the power of life and death. Held on top of the arrows by the eagle’s talon is the olive branch, the traditional symbol of peace. Above the eagle’s head is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and in the right field is the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. The denomination TEN DOLLARS is below. On its edge, the coin has forty-six raised stars.

Roosevelt, a deeply religious man, felt that it was blasphemous to have God’s name on a coin. Coins were used for gambling, prostitution, hiring assassins, and worse. So he asked Saint-Gaudens to omit the motto “In God We Trust.”

The first eagles of this design were struck, as were the ancient coins that Roosevelt admired, in high relief. They also had a knife rim or wire edge. This rim is a narrow piece of coin metal outside the border that is caused by the pressure between the dies and the collar. Its presence is annoying to those in commerce and banking because it often prevents the coins from stacking. Also these rims can cause ejections problems sometimes causing the new coins get stuck in the coining chamber. For these and other reasons, Charles Barber opposed the high relief coins. Despite his objections, a few were issued in 1907. The next year Barber lowered the relief when the motto was added.

There are two main types of Indian Head Eagles. The first is the No Motto or Type 1, which has a few varieties, with and without wire rims (also called rounded rims), periods before and after the motto, and a no periods variety. The second type has the motto IN GOD WE TRUST added to the reverse left field. The coins of this type were minted mid 1908 to the end of the series in 1933. Since the change to add the motto was made in the middle of the year, 1908 had both the No Motto and Motto on Reverse types. Most likely the members of Congress who advocated for the addition of the motto on the coinage were trying to prove that they were not atheists. Obviously they were not particularly concerned about maintaining the separation between church and state. In 1912 two more stars were added to the rim to reflect the statehood of Arizona and New Mexico.

There are a number of rarities in the Saint-Gaudens’ Indian Head Eagle series including the 1907 Wire Rim and Rounded Rim, the 1920-S, the 1930-S, and the 1933. Because the 1933 piece in unattainable, a complete date and mintmark set of eagles is 31 coins. Rarities are the 1907 with periods wire rim and rolled rim varieties, 1911-D, 1920-S, and the 1930-S.

Specifications:
Edge: 46 raised stars 1907-1911; 48 stars 1912-1933
Weight: 16.718 grams (258 grains) (.5375 troy ounces)
Diameter: 27 millimeters
Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper
Gold Content: 15.0465 grams (232.2 grains) (0.48375 troy ounces)


1907 Indian Head Gold Eagle
"IN GOD WE TRUST" OMITTED FROM REVERSE (1907-1908) - INDIAN HEAD GOLD EAGLE NO MOTTO
DATE NOTES
1907 Eagle
The exact mintage is unknown due to meltings at the Mint in 1907. The Wire Rim and Rolled Edge varieties are rare, quasi-pattern issues. Wire Rim total certified is 492; Rounded or Rolled Edge total certified 77; finest certified Wire Rim 1 MS69; finest certified Rolled Edge 6 in MS67. Regular issue (no periods) common up to MS66; finest certified are 3 in MS68. Only 1 proof Rolled Edge known.
1908 Eagle No motto
Scarce in Gem condition; the finest certified is a single MS68 example.
1908-D Eagle No motto
Often seen with weak strike and dull luster; scarce in MS63 and above; the finest certified are 3 in MS67 condition.

Indian Head Gold Eagle With Motto
"IN GOD WE TRUST" ADDED TO REVERSE (1908-1933) - INDIAN HEAD GOLD EAGLE WITH MOTTO
DATE NOTES
1908 Eagle With Motto
Common in grades up to MS63; usually seen with bold strike and satiny luster; finest certified is a single MS68+ example.
1908 Eagle With Motto, Matte Proof
Approximately 65 to 70 are known.1908 Eagle $10 Indian Head, NGC PF67
1908-D With Motto
Available in grades up to MS62; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified are 3 in MS68.
1908-S Eagle
Scarce in Gem condition; usually lustrous with sharp strike some granular; the finest certified is a single MS69 example.
1909 Eagle
Available in grades up to MS64; rare in Gem condition; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified is a single MS67+ example. Approximately 60 proofs known.
1909-D Eagle
Available in grades up to MS63; usually with average luster and poorly struck; exceedingly rare in Gem and above; the finest certified are 3 in MS67.
1909-S Eagle
Available in grades up to MS62; rare in Gem and above grades; the finest certified is a single MS68 example.
1910 Eagle
Available in grades up to MS64; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified are 3 in MS68. Approximately 65 proofs known.
1910-D Eagle
Most common branch mint of type; often seen with strike weakness because of die wear; available in grades up to MS65; the finest certified are 9 in MS67.
1910-S Eagle
Most seen in circulated condition; available in grades up to MS62; exceedingly rare in Gem and above with only 9 coins certified MS65 to MS66; the finest certified are 5 in MS66 condition; also seen with double and triple punched mintmark.
1911 Eagle
Common date in all grades up to MS65; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified are 3 in MS68. Approximately 60 proofs known.
1911-D Eagle
Key date; scarce in Mint State grades; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified are 3 in MS65.
1911-S Eagle
Scarce in Mint State grades; the finest certified are 11 in MS66 condition.
1912 Eagle
Common date; available in grades up to MS65; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified are 2 in MS67 condition. Approximately 50 proofs known.
1912-S Eagle
Available in grades up to MS64; rare in Gem and above; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified are 3 in MS66 condition.
1913 Eagle
Common date in grades up to MS65; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified is a single MS67 example. Approximately 45 proofs known.
1913-S Eagle
Scarce in Mint State grades; the finest certified are 2 in MS67.
1914 Eagle
Common in grades up to MS64; scarce in Gem and above grades; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified are 3 in MS67. Approximately 48 proofs known.
1914-D Eagle
Common in grades up to MS64; scarce in Gem and above grades; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified are 9 in MS67.
1914-S Eagle
Common in grades up to MS62; scarce in MS63 and above; rare in Gem condition; usually very lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified is a single MS67 example.
1915 Eagle
Available in grades up to MS65; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified is a single MS67+ example. Approximately 40 proofs known. 1915 $10 Indian NGC PF65
1915-S Eagle
Key date; scarce in lower Mint State grades; usually with good luster and strike; exceedingly rare in Gem and higher grades; the finest certified are 2 MS67 examples.
1916-S Eagle
Available in lower Mint State grades; usually well struck with average luster; rare in Gem and above grades; the finest certified are 2 in MS67 condition.
1920-S Eagle
Key date; exceedingly rare in all grades; only 105 have been certified by both services for all grades; the finest certified is a single MS67+ example.
1926 Eagle
Common in grades up to MS65; often seen with handling marks; the finest certified is a single MS66+ example. No proofs were made for this date.
1930-S Eagle
Key date; rare in all grades; only 173 have been certified by both services for all grades; the finest certified are 3 in MS67.
1932 Eagle
Most common date in all grades; over three thousand certified in Gem condition; usually lustrous with sharp strike; the finest certified are 9 in MS67.
1933 Eagle
Key date; extremely rare; most appear to have been destroyed before leaving the Mint; only 37 certified in all grades by both services; the finest certified is a single MS66 example; this coin is included in the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins.


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Indian Head Gold Eagle - Gold Eagles Indian - Indian Head Eagles

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