US Coins

Indian Head gold $2.50 and $5 coins included in Scotsman sale

Scotsman’s Nov. 5 Collectors’ Auction has some wonderful examples of Bela Lyon Pratt’s Indian Head gold $2.50 and $5 coins, which are characterized by their sunken designs first struck in 1908.

A top lot in the Scotsman offering is a 1910 Indian Head $2.50 quarter eagle graded Proof 67+ by Numismatic Guaranty Co.

The U.S. Mint experimented with several different Proof finishes for its Indian Head $2.50 and $5 coins between 1908 and 1915. The cataloger writes, “The finish [on the offered 1910 coin] differs minimally from that of a circulation strike, which helps explain why it proved unpopular with contemporary collectors who had trouble distinguishing true proofs from well struck commercial pieces.” A mintage of 682 is recorded, of which PCGS estimates that perhaps 136 survive today.

The catalog further observes, “Medium gold and copper-orange hues decorate the obverse, relieved by a couple of bright moonbeam-gold flashes across the headdress. Deeper citrus-gold hues saturate the reverse, again tempered by an occasional steely moonbeam accent.”

The coin carries an estimate of $45,000 to $50,000.

A set waiting to be finished

A collector wanting a head-start on a set of Indian Head quarter eagles should appreciate a set of 12 in a Capital Plastics holder that is missing just three dates — the common 1909 and 1914 coins, as well as the key 1911-D issue.

Scotsman observes that the set is well-matched, writing, “Golden-orange surfaces with ample luster fills this collection with nearly identical examples that grade in a narrow window from Extra Fine through Almost Uncirculated,” finding opportunity in the absences by pointing out that they give “a new collector the opportunity to give this run their finishing touch.”

High grades and key dates

While there’s just a single key among the circulation strike Indian Head quarter eagles, the half eagle series has a few more challenging dates. The 1909-O Indian Head $5 half eagle enjoys a status as the only New Orleans Mint coin in the series and has a low mintage of 34,200.

Scotsman will present one from the Blackhawk Collection graded About Uncirculated 58 by NGC, observing, “A fairly crisp example in terms of strike, this appears to be a remarkably original piece as well, showcasing some greyish patina over the slightly glittering golden surface.” Indeed, representatives from the New Orleans Mint are rarely seen finer.

Another highlight is a 1908-S Indian Head half eagle graded MS-65 by Professional Coin Grading Service that has wonderful luster and a bold strike. The auction house comments, “The cataloger cannot recall a more accurately rendered example of any date, as this piece received tremendous sharpness from both dies, from middle to end of every single feather in the headdress.”

In 1988 David Akers wrote, “There are more gems of this issue around than any of the other branch mint Indian Head half eagle and there are also a small number of really exceptional, nearly perfect specimens.”

Finer examples are very expensive; this one has an estimate of $16,000 to $18,000.

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