Made from 1907 to 1933, Indian Head Coins were the result of a collaboration between President Theodore Roosevelt and renowned sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Often described as the most innovative gold pieces to come from the U.S. Mint, these $10 coins were also the last of all the Indian Head Gold Eagle type pieces ever made.
While previous Indian Gold Eagles featured a Native American, Indian Head Coins display Lady Liberty wearing a feathered headdress. The obverse also shows thirteen stars above Liberty’s head, with the mintage year below. On the reverse of the coins is the same image of the perched American eagle with an olive branch and cluster of arrows. The inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, E PLURIUM UNUM, and TEN DOLLARS have also been placed around the large bird. In 1908, IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the left of the eagle on the reverse.
Although coin collectors make up the largest group of people buying Indian Head Coins, bullion investors also show great interest and appreciate the scarcity and beauty of these coins.
On a mission to rejuvenate the artistic qualities of American coinage, President Theodore Roosevelt called upon his sculptor friend, Augustus Saint-Gaudens to help with the design elements. Although Saint-Gaudens health was rapidly deteriorating at the time, he immediately began work on new coinage designs, and it was eventually decided that the Lady Liberty bust and eagle image would appear on the $10 Indian Head Coin.
The Lady Liberty bust was very similar to Saint-Gaudens design of the Nike head (Victory), which was produced for Sherman’s monument in Central Park, New York. However, Roosevelt had an unusual request, insisting that Liberty’s crown should be replaced with a Native American war bonnet. It was also decided that the reverse would feature a proud eagle standing on a bundle of arrows, much like the one found on the Inaugural medal of 1905 also designed by Saint-Gaudens.
In 1907, the first Indian Head Coin was struck with a wire edge instead of the typical rounded raised rim. Only 500 were produced, all of which featured 46 raised stars on the edges. As the wire edge prevented the coins from stacking properly, the concept was quickly abandoned, and 31,550 Indian Head Gold Coins were later made with a rolled edge instead. Sadly, the change resulted in poorly defined features on the coins, so all but 42 of them were melted down.
The U.S. Mint’s head engraver, Charles E. Barber made a few moderations to the coin to avoid public criticism and released 239,406 rolled edge pieces from the Philadelphia Mint in 1907. This new design was used until the early 1908 and did not include the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. This is because Roosevelt did not want a religious inscription on the coins, especially as they were probably going to be used by some for immoral purposes.
Another 33,500 coins from the Philadelphia Mint and 210,000 from the Denver Mint were struck without the religious motto. However, after Congress complaints, it was later added to the coins to the left of the eagle on the reverse, and no further design changes followed. Indian Head Gold Coins with the motto were struck at three U.S. Mints including Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco.
With a gold content of .4838 troy oz., Indian Head Coins are highly sought after pieces that boast immense beauty and historical significance. Most circulated grades are incredibly scarce, with the 1933 coins being one of the rarest of finds because the majority of them were melted into ingots to help combat the Great Depression. In 1933, 312,500 coins were struck but only a few dozen were ever released. Other elusive dates include:
Even the most commonly found Indian Head Coins (1926 and 1932) in mint state are scarce and, as a result, are often expensive. Proof issues can also be found in various colorations and three main types including matte, sandblast or satin coins.
Whether you’re looking to start your collection or strengthen an already established investment portfolio, Indian Head Coins are instantly recognizable, offering you both famous art and a true piece of American history. This means these coins not only have numismatic and collectable value but they’re also absolutely perfect for adding to any display.
As it’s so rare to come across Indian Head Coins, you’re faced with a limited amount of time to actually make a purchase when one does become available. A safe piece of advice is to buy if and when you can because you just never know when you’ll next get the opportunity to own one of these extremely popular coins.
If you’d like to add Indian Head Coins to your portfolio or collection, it’s always best to buy coins certified by one of the leading grading service facilities. To guarantee both quality and authenticity, Capital Gold Group offers certified coins that have been professionally graded by either the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).