The Joys of Collecting column from the Oct.
12, 2015, issue of Coin World:
In recent weeks I’ve gone behind the scenes with the Indian Head
gold $10 eagle design created by Augustus
Saint-Gaudens and widely circulated beginning in the autumn of
1907. At that time the motifs of American coins included the Indian
Head cent, the Liberty Head 5-cent, and the Coronet $2.50, $5, $10,
and $20 coins.
Prior to 1907, hardly any numismatic reviewers had anything nice to
say about the high-denomination gold designs, and the American art
community, more or less centered around New York City, thought that
all from the cent to the double eagle should be replaced. It was a
breath of fresh air when in 1907 the talents of America’s most famous
sculptor, Saint-Gaudens, created the $10 eagle and, soon to be launched, the $20 double eagle.
Not many people could afford to collect the new eagles by date and
Mint. In fact, even one was expensive. The average wage for a laborer
was about 22 cents per hour. Working for the usual 10 hours per day it
would take nearly a week to buy a $10 coin for face value. On the
other hand, the cost of living was low. Eggs cost a little more than 1
cent each, coffee was 15 cents per pound, a bottle of Coke or Moxie
cost 5 cents, and sugar was 4 cents per pound. Essentials were mostly affordable.
Luxuries were not, except for certain of those engaged in the
professions and business. Because of this, few Indian Head eagles were
collected even by those in better circumstances, once the interest in
the 1907 new issue faded.
Today, social circumstances have changed. With a nod to those who
are struggling, it is true to say that most adult Americans have one
or more cars, or access to one, a television set, audio devices,
Internet equipment, and perhaps have gone distant places on vacations.
Collecting Indian Head eagles by date and Mint is quite popular and
encompasses at least several thousand specialists. The series totals
30 basic pieces by date and Mint, of which only five are priced over
$10,000 in Mint State 60 grade. The other 25 include quite a few at
$2,000 or less in MS-63 grade. You might contemplate the choices and
start a set.
Don’t be cowed into thinking that the only worthwhile coins are
gems. Instead, contemplate the full range of grades and select those
that you can afford.