Indian Half Eagles

historic gold coin icon USA flag icon Indian Gold Half Eagles - with incused design and without raised rim

The US Mint produced $5 Indian Gold Half Eagles with years of interruption from 1908 to 1929. The coins were struck at the US Mint facilities in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans and Denver. They are composed of 90% gold and 10% copper with each coin containing 0.24187 oz of gold. About 14 million Indian Half Eagle gold coins were minted. However, only a tiny amount were minted in proof condition at the Philadelphia facility.

The obverse side of the Indian Half Eagles shows a Native American Indian Chief wearing a traditional headdress. An eagle standing on a bundle of arrows and an olive branch can be seen on the reverse. A highly unusual feature of the coins is that both sides' design is incused below the surface. The coins also don't have a raised rim. The Indian version of the Gold Half Eagles succeeded the $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagles in 1908.

obverse side of the 1909 $5 Indian Gold Half Eagle coin
reverse side of the 1909 $5 Indian Gold Half Eagle coin

Coin Fact Sheet

Weight Face Value Purity Diameter
0.24187 oz US $ 5 90% 21.6 mm

Total Mintage: 14,078,066

Design

The design by Bela Lyon Pratt depicts an incredibly detailed image of a Native American Indian Chief wearing a traditional headdress on the obverse side. The designer's initials “B.L.P.” and the year of mintage is inscribed underneath the portrait. Along the outer periphery appears the word “LIBERTY” as well as 13 stars that are meant to represent the original states of the United States.

The reverse side of the $5 Indian Gold Half Eagles depicts an eagle standing on a bundle of arrows and an olive branch. “IN GOD WE TRUST” is inscribed to the right of the eagle and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” appears to the left of the eagle's breast. The coin's denomination (“FIVE DOLLARS”) and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” is inscribed along the lower and upper edge of the coin. Indian Gold Half Eagles that were minted in San Francisco (mint mark: S), New Orleans (mint mark: O) or Denver (mint mark: D) contain a mint mark next to the bundle of arrows. However, coins that were minted at the main Philadelphia branch of the United States Mint don't have any mint mark.

An unusual characteristic of the $5 Indian Gold Half Eagles is the fact that both sides have their designs sunken below the coin's surface. Furthermore, the coins don't have a raised rim like most other coins issued by the US Mint.

History

The $5 Indian Gold Half Eagles were commissioned by the American President Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900's. The design was created by the artist Bela Lyon Pratt (a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens) and production started in 1908 when the coins replaced the earlier Liberty version of the Gold Half Eagles. Regular continuous production of the $5 Indian Gold Half Eagles ceased in 1916. After that, the coins were only produced in 1929. However, many of the coins minted that year were probably later melted down into bullion (due to currency laws passed during the Great Depression).

Rare Dates

Especially hard to find nowadays are the coins that were minted in New Orleans in 1909 (34.200 coins), Denver in 1911 (72.500 coins) and Philadelphia in 1929 (662.000 coins of which many have been melted down).

Proof coins were only minted in Philadelphia and are even rarer to find if at all possible. Proofs were only minted from 1908 to 1915 and mintage numbers varied from a minimum of 75 to a maximum of 250 coins.

Mintages

Annual mintage of $5 Indian Gold Half Eagles at the various US Mint branches varied between 34,200 coins (New Orleans 1909) and 3,423,560 coins (Denver 1909). Proof coins were exclusively minted at the Philadelphia branch of the US Mint and proof mintage varied between 75 coins (1915) and 250 coins (1910).

obverse side of the 1898 $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagle coin
reverse side of the 1898 $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagle coin

Liberty Gold Half Eagles

The $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagles were the predecessors of the $5 Indian Gold Half Eagles. The US Mint produced them from 1839 to 1908. The coins were struck at the US Mint facilities in Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Carson City, Charlotte, Dahlonega and Denver, making them the only US coins that were produced at 7 different mint facilities. Their composition is 90% gold and 10% copper with each coin containing 0.24187 oz of gold. Close to 61 million Liberty Half Eagle gold coins were minted. However, only a tiny amount were minted in proof condition at the Philadelphia facility. The obverse depicts Lady Liberty in profile and an eagle holding a shield appears on the reverse.

The Liberty Gold Half Eagle page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.