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1911 Indian Head Half Eagle - Proof

1911 Indian Head Half Eagle

The 1911 Indian Head Half Eagle is one of the more common dates of the series but it is scarce in choice or gem uncirculated condition. Proofs are rare and are of the matte finish type.

1911 $5 or Half Eagle ( 1911 Half Eagle )
PCGS No: 8520, 8542
Mintage: 915,000
Circulation strikes:  
Proofs: 139
Designer: Bela Lyon Pratt
Diameter: ±21.6 millimeters
Metal content: Gold - 90%
Copper - 10%
Weight: ±129 grains (±8.24 grams)
Edge: Reeded
Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia, PA) left of the arrowheads on the reverse.

One of the fulfillments of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt's "pet crime" plan-improving coinage designs, bypassing the stupefying mediocrity of Mint Engraver Barber-was issue of gold coins in the new design by Bela Lyon Pratt. The story behind this design is in Chap. 33, Sect, viii, introductory text. To this same "pet crime" project we owe the magnificent St. Gaudens eagles and double eagles, and ultimately also the Lincoln cent and buffalo nickel, undisputedly making this period the zenith of American coinage art, at least for sheer numbers of excellent designs introduced to circulation. (Barber got his revenge by watering down the designs.)

Nevertheless, hardly were the first Pratt half eagles out of the Mint before traditionalists began attacking the design on flimsy grounds. Earlier I cited S. Hudson Chapman's objections. A more serious criticism which could have been raised is that Barber ordered mintmarks to be placed just 1. of arrowheads, failing to notice that the O, S, or D will be weakly struck and wear down in that location more quickly than any other detail.

As a result, some of the rarer dates like 1908 S and 1909 O come so weak that mintmarks are difficult to read with certainty, and occasionally the ungodly either affix an O to a genuine Philadelphia coin or alter 1909 D to simulate the rarer mint-mark.

A consequence of a different kind is the 1916 without mint-mark S. Though the Philadelphia Mint issued no half eagles in 1916, at least two survivors lack the mintmark. These are generally thought to be 1916 S's weakly struck so that S does not show. The only one I have examined is strong enough to make that conclusion dubious. Alternative possibilities include foreign matter in the die clogging the mintmark, lapping.


Designer, Bela Lyon Pratt. Engraver, Charles E. Barber, after Pratt. Mints, Philadelphia (no mintmark), New Orleans (mintmark O), San Francisco (S), Denver (D). Mintmarks 1. of arrowheads. Physical Specifications, Authorizing Acts, as before.
Grade range, VERY GOOD to UNC.; not collected below VERY FINE. FINE: Knot of hair cord visible; partial feather contours both sides; full date, letters, and stars, but no central details. VERY FINE: Over half headband details; hair-cord knot clear; partial internal details to Indian's feathers; partial details on breast and leg feathers, over half wing-feather details. EXTREMELY FINE: Isolated tiny rubbed spots only; partial mint luster. UNCIRCULATED: No trace of wear; look on cheekbone, headdress below BE, and shoulder of wing (below back of eagle's neck). NOTE: Mintmarked coins are often weak in centers and at mintmarks.

1911, Proof
Mintage: 139. Smithsonian Institution specimen: PF-66

The Philadelphia Mint returned to the darker matte finish in 1911, although the grain was somewhat finer. This is the second most plentiful issue behind the 1908 date, and is available in virtually all Proof grades, including four coins graded PF-68 by NGC.


1911 Half Eagle - 1911 Indian Head Half Eagle - 1911 $5

US Rare Coin Investments 2003 - 2015 U.S. Rare Coin Investments

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