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 Gold Half Eagles were minted. However, only a tiny amount were minted in proof condition at the Philadelphia facility. Coins from certain years of production and/or mint facilities are now very rare and therefore valuable.
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 in Philadelphia 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.
|Gold Weight||Face Value||Diameter|
|0.24187 oz||5 Dollars||21.6 mm|
|Philadelphia||1908 - 1915, 1929|
|San Francisco||1908 - 1916|
|Denver||1908 - 1911, 1914|
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. 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).
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).
Click here to see a table with detailed mintage numbers.
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.