US Coins

1909-O Indian Head $5 in Very Fine

The Very Fine grade has the widest range of numerical grades in the 1 to 70 Sheldon scale that serves as the basis for grading coins today. Grades can range from Very Fine 20 to 35, with the next grade being Extremely Fine 40. It’s a tricky grade in today’s marketplace: well-circulated, but not entry-point; nicely detailed, but with virtually no luster. Here are three Very Fine coins that sold at Heritage’s recent Central States Numismatic Society auction in Schaumburg, Ill. 

The Coin:

1909-O Indian Head Gold $5 half eagle, Very Fine 35, CAC, 

The Price:


The Story:

Indian Head gold $2.50 quarter eagles and $5 half eagles are considered by many collectors to be the hardest coins to grade since the incused relief designs don’t show wear in the same way as more “normal” designs with standard raised relief. Examples of the type are rarely seen in grades lower than Very Fine. 

The 1909-O $5 half eagle is exciting in that it is the only gold Indian Head piece struck at the New Orleans Mint and 1909 marked the final year of coin production at that Mint. It also has a very low mintage of just 34,500 pieces. 

This one, graded VF-35 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker indicating quality within the grade, sold for $7,050. The Mint mark is weak, as is typically seen on this issue, but is clear enough to be seen with some magnification. Most known examples show circulation and the coin is infrequently seen in Mint State. 1909-O Indian Head half eagles in mid-Mint State grades are rarities.  

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