$5 Indian Head Half Eagle Gold Coins – 1908 to 1929

By: John Douglas

America in 1908 was a nation in the midst of wide ranging social and economic change. Headlines of the day sound like they were ripped right from todays news. Women were banned from smoking in public in New York City. A car began production that was advertised to get 25 miles to the gallon. The first “Round the World” car race was staged. New Years Day was celebrated by the famous ball dropping for the first time in New York’s Times Square. And the new $5 Indian Head Half Eagle gold coin, as well as its smaller sibling the Quarter Eagle, debuted in November 1908 to great controversy.

President Theodore Roosevelt had determined it was time for the nations coinage to change and become more beautiful. The well known sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt designed the obverse and reverse for the Half Eagle as well as the smaller Quarter Eagle. And the design was controversial from the start. It didn’t look like the typical American gold coin with its incuse, or sunken, design. Complaints were made that the portrait of the Native American model appeared emaciated. Banks complained the gold coins were difficult to stack and would be too easy to counterfeit. It was even claimed by some that the coins design would harbor dirt, germs and disease making them a hygiene problem, all of which proved untrue.

Roosevelt let the coins production move forward as planned despite the complaints and the complainers. The $5 Indian Head Half Eagles production lasted only a few, short years from 1908 through 1916. It was resurrected again in 1929 with a production run of 662,000 pieces but the majority of those were destroyed before ever leaving the mint. It was the last time a $5 Half Eagle gold coin was to be minted for circulation in the United States. From the time American gold coins were first minted in 1795 to 1916 the $5 gold coin only missed production in 3 years, 1801, 1816 and 1817. It was one of the most successful denominations produced by the U.S. Mint.

Today, the $5 Indian Head Half Eagle is one of the most popular collectible American gold coins. It is relatively inexpensive when compared with its big brother, the $20 St. Gaudens Double Eagle.

The obverse features a proud Native American facing left and wearing a War Bonnet. Around the obverse are 13 stars and the word LIBERTY featured at the top. At the bottom is the year produced and just above the year are the initials of Bela Lyon Pratt. A standing Eagle dominates the reverse of the coin standing on a bundle of arrows. Around the circumference is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, to the left of the Eagle is E PLURIBUS UNIM, to the right the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. Physically the coin is 21.60 mm in diameter, weighs 8.359 grams and is .900 pure gold. There are key dates that stand out in this series. Obviously 1929 is one, followed by the 1909-O and 1911-D.

Because of its design it is somewhat difficult to be graded correctly, especially by those unfamiliar with its unique design, because it doesn’t have the traditional high spots where you’d normally look for wear. That’s why it’s important to look for coins that are graded by either PCGS or NGC, or that you know and trust the person from where you are purchasing the coin.

These beautiful American gold coins enjoy a very strong following and sell quickly, especially in certified mint state or about uncirculated condition. They are a great addition to anyones coin collection. The $5 Indian Head Half Eagle is far more popular today than during the time it was produced.

Article Source: http://collectibles-articles.com

An avid fan and collector of American gold and silver coinage, John Douglas writes extensively on the history and mintage of pre-1933 American Gold Coins. Find in depth information about collecting American Gold Coins, their history and design, and supplies for all coin collectors at www.americangoldcoinshop.com

The $5 Half Eagle US Gold Coin – a Coin Collector’s Must-Have by Azman Abdul Aziz

Collecting US coins is one hobby that has sparked interest among collection enthusiasts. And any collector who wishes for nothing more than an impressive arrangement of coins should no doubt include the $5 Half Eagle in it.

This $5 US gold coin is a must have for any ardent coin collector. It is one of the most popular items for coin collectors all over the country. The reason for this is that the Half Eagle was the very first golden coin ever struck by the US mint for circulation. It undeniably holds immense historical value that surpasses the value of its coin descendants.

The $5 Liberty Head Half Eagle, also called the $5 Coronet, enjoyed one of the longest reigns in US Coinage history with its circulation beginning in 1839 up until 1908. That is a 69-year circulation, considered a long run for any US gold coin. The Half Eagle was said to have been the “workhorse” of the US economy during that era.

In addition to its great historical worth, what makes the Half Eagle more important is that it stands to be the only coin in US history that was produced at all seven of the branch mints operating during its reign. These branch mints in particular are that of Philadelphia, Charlotte, San Francisco, Dahlonega, Carson City, Denver, and New Orleans.

The US Mint was authorized by Congress to coin this $5 Half Eagle on the 2nd of April, 1792. The very first design of the Half Eagle was termed the Capped Bust to the Right, Small eagle. And just like the Quarter Eagle, it also went through several changes in design and content throughout its existence and production.

In the obverse of the $5 Half Eagle is the inspiring and dominant feature of Lady Liberty, whose magnificent golden hair is adorned with a string of beads. The world ‘liberty’ is engraved on the coronet that sat at the top of her head. Encircling Liberty’s portrait are the date as well as a star that stood for each of the thirteen original colonies during that era.

On the reverse side of Lady Liberty is a proud bald eagle, labeled popularly as the ‘Heraldic Eagle’. Its wings are spread apart, and it is standing among olive branches, clinching three arrows in his talons. The Heraldic Eagle also has a shield with stars and stripes adorned on its chest. Surrounding the eagle are the words ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’, the mint mark and the denomination of the gold coin.

The original make-up which was designed by Robert Scot and held a weight of 8.75 grams, coupled with a gold purity of .9167 or less than one ounce. However during the year 1937, the $5 coin was struck from .900-fine gold.

One of the last and final designs of the $5 Half Eagle was done by Christian Golbrecht, assistant Engraver to his superior, William Kneass. His version was minted beginning in 1839 and lasted until 1908, when the $5 Indian Head gold coin was introduced.

A truly valuable and historical item, the $5 Half Eagle gold coin is a sure must-have for coin enthusiasts everywhere.

Azman Abdul Aziz runs the US Coins Collector site. Visit $5 Half Eagle page to see them in auctions.