1908 $5 Indian Head Half Eagle PCGS MS65
Gold specialist David Akers writes, "In MS-65, the 1908 is very scarce....The typical 1908 is well struck with very good to excellent lustre and satiny rather than frosty surfaces. (There are many specimens of the 'soft' frosty type as well, however.) Color varies widely from rich greenish gold to bright yellow gold to orange and greenish gold." PCGS has graded 253 examples of the 1908 as MS65 with 57 finer. Collectors Universe gives this issue a price of $16,500.00 in MS65.
Painting of Bela Lyon Pratt by Howard E. Smith (1917). Pratt designed and engraved the Indian head half and quarter eagle coins. Image: Wikimedia Commons.
The mint director at the time of the concept and creation of this beautiful coin was Frank Leach, who wrote in his memoir:
Originally it was the intention to give the $5 and $2.50 pieces the same design as that used on the double eagle or $20 piece, but before final action to that end was taken President Roosevelt invited me to lunch with him at the White House. His purpose was to have me meet Doctor William Sturgis Bigelow of Boston, a lover of art and friend of the President, who was showing great interest in the undertaking for improving the appearance of American coins, and who had a new design for the smaller gold coins. It was his idea that the commercial needs of the country required coins that would "stack" evenly, and that the preservation of as much as possible of the flat plane of the piece was desirable. A coin, therefore, with the lines of the design, figures, and letters depressed or incused, instead of being raised or in relief, would meet the wishes of the bankers and business men, and at the same time introduce a novelty in coinage that was artistic as well as adaptable to the needs of business.
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