Artistic and U.S. coinage were two words that hardly ever appeared in the same sentence. It was an image President Theodore Roosevelt was determined to change with his sweeping coinage design legislation.
One of the first examples produced from this change was the $10 Indian Head Gold Eagle designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and produced from 1907 to 1933.
Though called the “Indian Head Gold Eagle”, the obverse design is not actually that of an American Indian but of Lady Liberty facing to the left wearing an indian headdress or feather war bonnet with “LIBERTY” inscribed on the headband of the bonnet. Above the bust design are 13 stars to represent the original states or colonies.
The reverse features a standing eagle on a perch of bundled arrows and an olive branch. To the right of the Eagle's head are the words “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and next to the eagles breast is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” (note 1907 & early 1908 issues did not have the motto). On the outer periphery are the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and denomination “TEN DOLLARS”. A mint mark for San Francisco (S) or Denver (D) are located to the right of the arrows but early issues without “IN GOD WE TRUST” had the mint marks placed slightly higher above the end of the branch . Coins minted at the Philadelphia mint carried no mint marks.
The coin edge is one of the more interesting features of the design. Most U.S. coins have an edge that is smooth, reeded, or lettered but the Indian Head coin featured 46 raised stars (48 stars beginning in 1912) that represented the number of states in the union at that time.
Variety 1 1907 – 1908: Reverse No Motto or no “IN GOD WE TRUST”
Variety 2 1908 – 1933: Reverse with Motto or with “IN GOD WE TRUST”
|Variety 1||Variety 2|
General Market Notes
The effects of melting gold coinage by the U.S. Mint during various years has created some dramatic numismatic values for surviving specimens and giving berth to the key of the series the 1933 issue. The semi-keys are the 1907, 1920-S and the 1930-S issues.
Due to the high valuations of these coins it is not uncommon to discover fakes or counterfeits. It is highly recommended NOT to purchase a raw specimen but a certified coin from a reputable seller.