The 1908 Quarter Eagle is a popular issue due
to its status as the first Indian Head Quarter Eagle. As with
many 20th century first-year-of-issue pieces, it was saved as
a curiosity and more exist in higher grades than is generally
believed. But the demand level for this date remains very high
and gems are eagerly sought-after by collectors.
gold / Copper - 10%
grains (±4.18 grams)
None (for Philadelphia,
PA) left of the arrowheads on the reverse.
STRIKE: The obverse is generally among the better
struck issues of this type with very strong detail
noted on the Indian's feathers and headband. The reverse,
however, always shows weakness on the eagle's wing.
This is actually not due to strike, but because of
a lack of detail on the die. This problem was corrected
on later issues, but on the 1908, it means that many
coins with reverse weakness are mistaken for worn
SURFACES: Most show marks on the surfaces that range
from slight to severe. There are some pieces that
were probably put away in 1908 and have been carefully
preserved since. It is possible for the collector
to locate a piece that has above-average surfaces.
LUSTER: The luster seen on this issue is not as good
as that found on the later Philadelphia dates. It
is most often found with a soft, slightly satiny texture
that is appealing, but not as "flashy" as,
say, on the 1925 through 1929 dates.
COLORATION: The coloration
seen on original specimens is usually a medium to
deep green-gold hue. Specimens with attractive color
are relatively easy to find.
APPEAL: The overall level of eye appeal is slightly
below average, primarily due to the weakness on the
eagle's wing mentioned above. In addition, some 1908
Quarter Eagles are dull and have a somewhat grainy
appearance. However, it is definitely possible to
locate a piece that is cosmetically appealing.
Condition Census: To qualify in the Condition
Census, a 1908 Indian Head Quarter Eagle must grade
1908 Indian Quarter Eagles were struck with
a dark matte finish and are found with deep olive-gold
coloration. It is believed that around half of the
original mintage figure of 236 pieces exist today.
The 1908 is the most available Proof Indian Head Quarter
Eagle in high grades and most survivors are in the
Proof-64 to Proof-65 range. As with circulation strikes
for this year, the Proofs appear to be saved as novelties
by both collectors and non-collectors. For the collector
who is seeking a single Proof issue of this design,
the 1908 is an excellent choice.
The new style of the quarter eagles was designed by
Bela Lyon Pratt. The obverse features a Native American
chief with the legend LIBERTY above and the date below,
with 13 stars surrounding. An eagle facing left dominates
the reverse, perched atop a cluster of arrows draped
by an olive branch. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
is above, and 2 1/2 DOLLARS below, with the motto
E PLURIBUS UNUM in the left field and IN GOD WE TRUST
in the right field. Although many examples were saved
as the first of their kind, most survivors lack definition
on the upper portion of the eagle's wing, a result
of the dies not being prepared properly. The 1907
quarter eagle is available in all grades, including
gem condition, and specimens can even be located in