President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned Augustus Saint-Gaudens (the designer of the $10 Indian and $20 “Saint”) to overhaul the $2.50 and $5 denominations. However, before the famed sculptor could tackle those two coins, he unexpectedly passed away in 1907. Roosevelt still wanted the coins to be redesigned in a creative and innovative manner. Thus, he assigned the project to Bela Lyon Pratt, a student of Saint-Gaudens’.
Like his teacher, Pratt wanted his gold coin prototypes to be unique and unlike any other U.S. coin. His incuse design submissions were met with both praise and controversy. Roosevelt adored the designs and approved them immediately. The U.S. Mint, on the other hand, was terrified about how difficult the coins would be to strike.
The Mint’s fears were not unfounded. Once Pratt’s designs were officially approved, the Denver and San Francisco Mint reported major challenges in making the new Indian gold coins. The only solution was to shave or adjust the planchets (blanks) slightly so that the coins would strike properly. Despite the vociferous protests, the coin still went into mass-production.
The controversy didn’t end there. Once released, the general public feared that germs, dirt and grime would get stuck in the coin’s sunken recesses. Merchants lamented that the coins didn’t stack properly and were being rejected by automatic sorting/counting machines. Despite these complaints, production of the $2.50 and $5 Indian gold coins continued.
Ultimately, the Indian gold pieces became more popular as collectibles than as units of trade. Banks preferred to use larger denominations for reserves and transfers. A typical financial institution would hold its gold deposits in $10 and $20 coins – not $2.50 and $5 pieces. In addition, more and more Americans were using $1, $2, and $5 paper bills in place of gold coins.
Within a decade, the $2.50 and $5 Indian gold coins were being made primarily as gifts and novelties. Mintages dwindled considerably before both denominations were put on hiatus altogether. Even though the $10 and $20 pieces were made until 1933, the last Indian gold coins came off the dies in 1929.
The Indian $2.50 and $5 may not have been popular in everyday commerce, but it soon became a beloved collectible. These two coins were among the very first to develop substantial numismatic premiums and, by the 1970s, they were already trading for 2x to 3x their melt value. Their unusual and highly attractive design made them an early favorite with collectors.
There’s another reason why these coins enjoy such strong demand: rarity. Both the $2.50 and $5 Indians experienced limited production runs with smaller mintages. The $2.50 Indian Quarter Eagle was made briefly from 1908-1915 and then saw another spurt from 1925-1929. The $5 Indian Half Eagle, meanwhile, was struck from 1908-1916 and then once more in 1929. This is much unlike Liberty design gold coins, which were issued continuously for over half a century.
Given all this, it’s no surprise that it’s taken us so long to highlight the $2.50 and $5 Indians. In a nutshell, they’ve truly been hard to find! Sure, we’ve sourced some here and there, but rarely have we been able to find a decent quantity in one place. This is why we were excited to acquire a mini-hoard of them last week.
Thanks to our fortunate find, we can now offer you $2.50 and $5 Indians at the lowest prices of any major dealer:
These coins are in “Low Premium” condition, meaning they may show signs of wear, scratching, or cleaning. This condition is typical for vintage coins of this era. Please note that all major design features (including the date) are clear and they have full metal weight. As the phrase suggests, “Low Premium” coins are the most cost-effective grade.
It’s been quite a while since we’ve been able to spotlight these $2.50 and $5 Indians. Given their scarcity, it’s been difficult for us to find any kind of meaningful quantity. With that in mind, we encourage you to take advantage of this offer today. Now may be a great opportunity to add these two beautiful, iconic, and unusual incused coins to your holdings.
Our only warning is to act fast, as we have exactly fifty (50) of each coin available. These coins were already immensely popular before the Incuse Maple arrived, but now they’re in even stronger demand. Between the renewed excitement around incuse coins and today’s exceptionally low price, these Indian gold coins will not last long!