The Joys of Collecting column from the Oct. 5, 2015, monthly issue of Coin World:
In the summer of 1907, the new Indian Head $10 eagle was announced.
Created by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who had died on Aug. 3, the coin drew a lot of attention once it reached circulation in the autumn.
Since day one in federal coinage, with the release of the 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain cent, if something negative could be said about a coin design, it was.
Probably most maligned was the Morgan dollar, whose eagle was repeatedly referred to as a buzzard. Not to be overlooked are “the old lady with a broomstick” (Seated Liberty design); a “ship on wheels” (the reverse of the 1892 World’s Columbian Exposition half dollar); and the 1923-S Monroe Doctrine half dollar that Cornelius Vermeule, a nationally recognized classic art expert (and numismatist), called “ugly,” adding that its “low, flat relief with an attempt at a feeling for modeling rather than carving makes the bust and the females poised to imitate the outline of the continents seem like mounted cut-outs. They can even be said to resemble daubs of clay on a board, or relief outlines in glass. Adams, with his staring eye, is scarcely a portrait, and Monroe would not be recognized even by an expert.”
Connect with Coin World:
Some reviews may or not be considered negative, such as Don Taxay’s remark that the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse of the cent looked like a trolley car. I like old trolley cars.
The 1907 Indian Head eagle attracted many reviews — good, bad, and indifferent. I give two of them here.
Howland Wood, secretary of the American Numismatic Society, displayed his erudite knowledge in a letter to Thomas Elder, who was collecting comments:
“… In justification of the Greek type of the new $10, the placing of the head as it is and the feathers going to the edge, almost identical types can be found among many Greek coins. I can only think of a few offhand, including the Athenian pieces, and those of Thurium, Pharsalos, and Velia.