The $5 Gold Indian Head gold coin, also known as a Half-Eagle, is nearly identical in design, save for it's 5 dollar denomination, to it's $2 1/2 counterpart. Both were designed by Bela Lyon Pratt. Pratt was a protege of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and this is where the embroiled history of this coin's design begins. Augustus was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt to redesign the gold coins being produced as currency for the United States. Roosevelt felt that the current coins were lacking in design and beauty commensurate with the power and stature that the United States had achieved.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens finished the design for the $20 Double Eagle, but died of cancer before he could design a new $5 piece and the powers in place at the U.S. Mint did not find the design for the $20 Double Eagle suitable to be resized to the smaller $5 and $2 1/2 coins. Pratt was the second artist to design a coin for the U.S Government that was not a U.S. Mint employee, Saint-Gaudens being the first. Pratt's original design was modified before production by Charles E. Barber who was the Chief Engraver at the U.S. Mint, and these alterations led Pratt to declare that he was "Ashamed" of the final product of his design.
Nevertheless, many from novice collectors to experienced numismatists find the coin quite striking and beautiful and this has led to very high premiums (And therefore profits), over the value of the gold contained in the coin. The 1929 strike of this coin can be very valuable, especially in excellent condition, however the more common dates allow those with even a modest budget to own a fine piece of American Numismatic History.
Just as these fractional coins (a coin having a weight of less than one ounce) were easy to use for day to day purchases and bill and debt settlements back when they were originally minted and circulated, today they are easy to acquire and add to your portfolio. A specimen of the $5.00 Indian in XF condition (Extremely Fine) can be had for just a few hundred dollars. Whether you are new to buying old U.S. gold and silver coins, or whether you have been buying rare and numismatic coins for a while now, you will find that your portfolio will benefit greatly when you constantly and consistently add to it, and the current pricing and availability of these coins makes adding one to your shopping cart today easy!
These coins are easy to store, easy to liquidate or convert to cash, and because of their unique qualities and high degree of ornate detail and quality craftmanship, these coins are easy for even the relatively untrained eye to determine as genuine.
Also, because the Indian Head design was produced in $2 1/2, $5.00, and $10.00 denominations, many collectors and investors alike choose to add one of each denomination to their portfolios. Unlike the coinage of today, which uses a different obverse and reverse (front and back) design for each denomination, these coins shared the finely detailed designs in varying sizes to fit the size of the coin’s face.
While the details are most easy to see on the larger $10.00 Indian gold coin, they are still quite visible and pleasing on the $5.00 coin. If you so choose, you may decide to acquire a $5.00 Indian Head gold coin in a higher grade or Mint State for a relatively small increase in price. Keep in mind that over time, these coins not only rise in value as the price of gold increases, but because as the interest and participation in the gold market increases, demand and therefor prices for these coins tends to increase over time as well.
New bullion coins are produced nearly everyday, but these coins Indian Head gold coins have not been minted in some cases for over a century, and their numbers are only decreasing over time as a few a are lost to fire, flood, etc. each year. The laws of supply and demand are on your side when you own a rare and beautiful coin such as this $5.00 Indian Head.
Legalities and Specifics About the Gold Indian Head Coin
The $5 Gold Indian and the $5 Liberty coin are both commonly referred to as Half-Eagles because the Mint Act of 1792 declared the "Eagle" to have a value of $10 U.S. Similar legislations required that "United States of America" and "E Pluribus Unum" both appear on the coin. Pratt also inscribed "In God We Trust" into the back, or reverse, of the coin in keeping with the desire and demand of the people of the United States.
The $5 Indian is composed of 90% pure gold and 10% copper, as pure gold coins are too soft for the rigors of use in commerce. Pratt's design of an Indian Chief in headdress on the front of the coin, and his rendition of an eagle clutching arrows and an olive branch on the rear of the coin, are struck incused. The incuse, or sunken design of the coin was meant to aid in the stacking and daily use of the coins, but the public was slow to accept this depressed design, fearing that the coin would harbor disease and sickness. To date, the $5 Indian and the $2 1/2 Indian are the only American coins to be struck in this manner. Ironically, for the very reason that made the coin unpopular at it's release, the coin is now sought after simply because of this anomaly among American coinage.
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