Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Significant examples

INDIAN HEAD FIVE DOLLARS OR HALF EAGLE
(1908-1929)

1908  
1908-D
1908-S
1909
1909-D
1909-O
1909-S
1910
1910-D
1910-S
1911
1911-D
1911-S
1912
1912-S
1913
1913-S
1914
1914-D
1914-S
1915
1915-D All are counterfeit.
1915-S
1916-S
1929 Very scarce - many of this date may have been melted.

INDIAN HEAD FIVE DOLLARS OR HALF EAGLE FACTS

The Indian Head quarter eagle and its larger companion, the half eagle, stand out from all the rest of United States coinage because their designs and lettering are sunken in a plane that is uniformly flat. The highest points of relief are level with the coins' fields, and they have no raised rims to protect them from wear. In fact, the only element of these coins to exceed the level of their fields are their mint marks, if any.

The obverse depicts an Indian brave in a war bonnet, with the date, thirteen stars and the motto LIBERTY forming a circle around this central device. The reverse shows an eagle in repose, perched upon fasces and an olive branch, the intertwined symbols of preparedness and peace. Through judicious sizing and placement, Pratt succeeded in incorporating four different inscriptions on this side, (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, E PLURIBUS UNUM, IN GOD WE TRUST and the statement of value) without causing the coin to seem unbalanced, cluttered or cramped.

Indian Head half eagles were issued annually from 1908 through 1929. The series ended in 1929-one of many victims of that year's Wall Street crash. As the depression took hold, what little gold came into the Mint was used for production of double eagles. With the cessation of gold coinage and the great recall of 1934, the half eagle would not return.

Being recessed, the design elements on Indian Head half eagles are protected from excessive wear. At the same time, this complicates the grading of these coins, since the patterns of normal wear differ from those of raised-relief coins. Critical areas for detecting traces of wear are the Indian's cheekbone and headdress feathers and the shoulder of the eagle's left wing. Counterfeits of many dates exist, and some are very deceiving. Any questionable piece should be authenticated.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Designer: Bela Lyon Pratt

Diameter: 21.6 millimeters

Metal Content: Gold - 90% Copper - 10%

Weight: 129 grains (8.24 grams)

Edge: Reeded

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Akers, David W., A Handbook of 20th-Century United States Gold Coins 1907-1933,Bowers & Merena Galleries, Wolfeboro, NH, 1988. Breen, Walter, Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, F.C.I. Press/Doubleday, New York, 1988. Taxay, Don, The U.S. Mint and Coinage, Arco Publishing Co. Inc., New York, 1966. Yeoman, R.S., A Guide Book of United States Coins, 47th Edition, Western Publishing Co., Racine, WI, 1993.

Coin Information Provided Courtesy NGC. Edited by Coinrsource.com
INDIAN HEAD FIVE DOLLARS OR HALF EAGLE (1908-1929)
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