The Indian Quarter Eagle Coin stands out from other coinage minted in the United States because of its incuse design. Just like its bigger twin, the Indian Gold Half Eagle, this coin has sunken lettering and features, rather than the raised engravings normally seen on the majority of gold coins. When the public first received the coin in 1908, they questioned its sunken nature and had mixed feelings about its appearance. However, the incusing of the design elements have added to its present-day appeal and value.
On the obverse of the Indian Gold Quarter Eagle is an Indian male chief with a large ceremonial headdress. This image is encircled by thirteen stars, with the word LIBERTY above and the date stamp below. A bald eagle perched on some arrows with an olive branch under its claws is featured on the coin’s reverse. Incused inscriptions surround the eagle, such as UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above, 2 1/2 DOLLARS below, IN GOD WE TRUST to the right, and E PLURIBUS UNUM to the left of the detailed image.
Concluded in 1933, the Indian Quarter Eagle is now considered one of the most artistic coin series ever created among gold coin enthusiasts.
At the beginning of the 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt decided it was time to implement a major design change to gold coinage. He’d seen enough of the Lady Liberty image which had featured on the obverse of American gold coins ever since the 1830s. Dr. Willian Sturgis Bigelow, a dear friend of President Roosevelt, put forward the idea of using an incuse design for Indian Quarter Eagles, and Roosevelt responded positively.
Dr. Willian Sturgis Bigelow got in touch with sculptor, Bela Lyon Pratt and commissioned him to design both the obverse and reverse of the $2.50 Indian Quarter Eagle coin. Born in 1867, Bela Lyon Pratt was a Bostonian graduate from Yale who had spent many years studying under renowned sculptors including Augustus Saint-Gaudens. However, it was the innovative United States Mint that was responsible for giving the Indian Quarter Eagle its unique sunken appearance. This incused design was also used on the $5 Indian Gold Half Eagle Coin.
As previously mentioned, not all coin dealers and members of the public appreciated the new and improved Indian Quarter Eagle design. Some believed the sunken parts of the coin would become clogged with disease and filth, while others complained that the coin couldn’t stack as well as the previous gold coin offerings. Regardless of the criticism he received, President Roosevelt stuck to his guns and fully supported the unusual looking coin.
Indian Quarter Eagles were struck annually from 1908 to 1915, but the U.S. Mint stopped production for the next ten years. In 1925, these coins were issued for a further five years before the series came to an end in 1929.
Each Indian Quarter Eagle Coin has a face value of $2.50 and been struck with .12094 oz. of .900 pure gold. It’s understood that these coins are often tricky to grade because the incuse design has shielded them from wear. That said, there are plenty of Indian Quarter Eagles out there that have been graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Each certified coin will feature a unique label highlighting its condition, mintage year, face value, and certification number, as well as the name of the grading service.
The Indian Quarter Eagle is one of only two American coins to have ever been made with incuse designs. This alone makes these coins extremely sought after, as does the limited production of the coins. Collectors and investors should also be aware that many Indian Quarter Eagle Coins were melted into gold bars by the U.S. Mint after the elimination of gold as money in 1933, making all surviving coins rare and highly valuable.
With three issues from the Denver Mint and twelve issues from the Philadelphia Mint, coin hobbyists have the opportunity to complete an entire set. However, Indian Quarter Eagles are growing increasingly scarce, another appealing reason to add these coins to your collection or investment portfolio.
It’s also important to stress that many counterfeits exist, so it’s crucial to purchase Indian Quarter Eagles that have been graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). To give you peace of mind that your gold coins are genuine, Capital Gold Group can offer you Indian Quarter Eagle Coins certified by either the NGC or PCGS.