Introduced in 1908, the Indian Gold Half Eagle stands out as being just one of two United States coin issues with an incuse design. These gold coins feature images and wording that have been engraved into the coin, as opposed to artworks and lettering raised above the surface. Interestingly, no other American coinage went on to be minted in the same way, except for Indian Quarter Eagles. The production of Indian Gold Half Eagles ended in 1929 but, thankfully, investors and collectors can still get their hands on these limited pieces of American history today.
The obverse of the Indian Gold Half Eagle Coin depicts the portrait of a Native American chief with a large feathered headdress. He is surrounded by thirteen stars which are separated by the word LIBERTY and the coin’s mintage year. The coin’s reverse features an American bald eagle sitting on a cluster of arrows while clutching an olive branch, as well as incused inscriptions.
While this uncommon recessed design gave rise to controversy at the time of its release, investors and coin hobbyists worldwide rate Indian Gold Half Eagles as must-have pieces.
During the early years of the 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt had a goal to upgrade the artistic nature of United States coinage. To achieve this, he called upon his Boston based friend, Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow who just so happened to be a lover of incuse art. Unsurprisingly, it was Bigelow who suggested that the $5 Indian Gold Half Eagle Coins, as well as the Indian Quarter Eagle Coins, should take on a recessed appearance. Never one to be afraid of being different, President Roosevelt agreed to this unusual proposal.
The job of designing the obverse and reverse of the coin was awarded a sculptor named Bela Lyon Pratt. Also from Boston, Pratt was a Yale graduate who had been mentored by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. After Pratt had taken care of the Native American Indian and bald eagle designs, the United States Mint got to work on creating the coin’s sunken elements.
When the Indian Gold Half Eagle Coin was released to the public in 1908, it generated a mixed response. While some people quite liked the new design, others had concerns about counterfeiting and the coin’s stacking ability. Some even complained about fears that the incuse features on the coin could harbor bacteria and spread diseases. Unbothered by the negative comments, President Roosevelt refused to make any alterations to the coin.
Indian Gold Half Eagles were minted every year from 1908 to 1916, and production was suspended for thirteen years. In 1929, over 660,000 new coins were struck, but many were melted down before leaving the U.S. Mint when the Great Depression took hold and put an end to the production of these unusual coins.
Containing .2419 oz. of pure gold and with a face value of $5, Indian Gold Half Eagles were produced at four United States Mint facilities including Carson City, Denver, New Orleans and San Francisco. The price and value of each Indian Gold Half Eagle Coin are based on its grade and condition, and the higher the scarcity of the coin, the more valuable it’s likely to be. With some dates being virtually impossible to find, certified Indian Gold Half Eagles are renowned for fetching considerably more than their face value.
Today, the Indian Gold Half Eagle is considered a classic gold coin that is bought for investment purposes or to add to a prized coin collection. It comes as no surprise that this coin is highly desired for its unique design and historical value, as well as its artistic qualities.
As many Indian Gold Half Eagles went to the melting pot when the Great Depression hit America, and more investors are now entering the gold market, they’ve become increasingly rare finds. As a result, Indian Gold Half Eagles are difficult to discover, especially those in good condition.
When purchasing Indian Gold Half Eagles, it’s always wise to buy only certified pieces that have been graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Grading of these coins is extremely important to ensure you’re not actually buying counterfeit coins, which can be very hard to identify by untrained eyes. By investing in certified Indian Gold Half Eagles, you can rest assured that your purchases are genuine.
If you’re interested in adding these gold coins to your investment portfolio or beautiful collection, we enable you to buy with confidence. Capital Gold Group regularly offers certified Indian Gold Half Eagles certified by either the NGC or PCGS. However, once in our possession, they don’t stick around for very long.