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Proof Gold Coins

1911 Quarter Eagle Indian
Please call: 1-800-624-1870
1911 $2.50 Indian
Coin ID: RC3189547
$25,700.00 - SOLD - 10/23/2012

1911 Quarter Eagle - 1911 $2.50 Indian PCGS PF65. This Gem proof 1911 Indian Quarter Eagle has a granular matte finish similar to that of the proofs of 1908. It could have easily graded a point or two higher since the surfaces are original and very clean with virtually no contact marks or bright spots visible without magnification. The dull spot in the center of the reverse is a scuff mark on the holder not the coin. The matte finish on this piece is darker in color than seen on earlier Roman Finish issues. The grade is unaffected by some weakness in the strike at the garland of flowers and the top of the eagle’s shoulder.

Responding to President Theodore Roosevelt’s request, sculptor, designer Augustus Saint-Gaudens created a new gold eagle. Saint-Gaudens, Roosevelt’s personal friend for years, had designed Roosevelt’s inaugural medal, and the new president was very happy with his work. For the new eagle, Saint-Gaudens chose the “Indian Princess” design. It had a bust of Liberty wearing an Indian feathered war bonnet. Roosevelt felt that the contemporary United States coinage was “atrociously hideous,” and Saint-Gaudens agreed. An idealized Indian war bonnet was used to give the coin a distinctly nationalistic character. Because of its use, the coin wound up being known as the “Indian Head” eagle. Saint-Gaudens used as his model the figure of Nike, which was part of his sculpture of the Sherman Monument at the entrance to New York’s Central Park.

Thirteen stars are seen in an arc above the head, and the date is below the truncation of the neck. The reverse of the coin shows a magnificent standing eagle, reminiscent of Egyptian designs. It is standing on a log with arrows and an olive branch in its talons. In an arc above it are the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Below the eagle is the written denomination, TEN DOLLARS and above its wings is the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. Instead of a reeded edge, there are forty-six raised stars on the edge, which represented the states of the union at the time.
In 1908, the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the coin’s reverse in front of the eagle. Roosevelt considered it blasphemous to have God’s name on a coin that could be used for immoral purposes such as drinking, gambling, and worse or would even fall on the floor and be stepped on. However, Congress insisted that it be added. Charles Barber modified the coin by adding the motto and making other insignificant changes.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens was born in Ireland, the son of a shoemaker. He became one of America’s most successful sculptors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1848, his family moved from Dublin to New York before his first birthday. When he was thirteen, Saint-Gaudens left school and became an apprentice to a cameo cutter. He also took classes at Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design. When he was nineteen, he moved to Europe where he studied classical art and architecture.     

His first commission was a statue of Admiral Farragut that is still in Madison Square Park in New York. By the 1890’s Saint-Gaudens had produced his statues of Diana and Abraham Lincoln, both considered some of his greatest works. He also created works such as the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial on Boston Common and the equestrian monument to Civil War general John A. Logan in Chicago. He became part of a group of new artists and architects and worked for an architectural firm for whom he produced a group of monuments and decorative sculpture. Throughout his career, he worked with architects creating works that were designed specifically for the sites they were building. At the entrance to New York’s Central Park is his bronze statue of General Sherman led by Victory. It took him eleven years to complete this project.

Saint-Gaudens moved to his summer home in Cornish, New Hampshire in 1900. Joined there by a community of artists, Saint-Gaudens spent his final years. He died of stomach cancer in 1907 just after he created the beautiful high relief models for the eagle and double eagle coins.

All of the proof coins of this design are rare. In all 768 proof coins were struck for all the dates of this design. Many were unsold and melted in 1917. Others were spent during the Great Depression. The proofs’ finishes differ from year to year. Evidently this was a time of experimentation with proof finishes. In prior years proof finishes were brilliant, made from highly polished dies and struck more than once.

In its population report, PCGS shows 18 1911 proof 65 quarter eagles with 29 better.

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* Prices subject to change with no advance notice due to market or other reasons.

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