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April 11, 2014


Click on Coin Image to enlarge

Tied for Finest Known! 1910 $5 Indian Head, PCGS MS65 - $14,500.00

1910 $5 Indian Head, PCGS MS65. In its population report, PCGS shows 22 1910 half eagles certified at the MS65 grade level with none finer. This outstanding, Gem 1910 Indian Head half eagle is tied for the finest known at PCGS.

Please contact me by email or telephone 1-800-624-1870 to reserve this great coin.

This specimen is well struck with full details on the high points of the Indian’s bonnet, the feather details, and the feathers on the highest wing of the eagle. The surfaces are extremely clean with no visible abrasion marks or other distractions. The white scuff marks in the center on both sides are on the holder not the coin. As expected for a Gem piece, bright mint luster is evident within the devices. The light and dark yellow-gold colors affirm the coin’s originality. It is a lovely piece that fully shows Pratt’s new design.

In 1908 the new Indian Head half eagle was produced. Designed by Bela Lyon Pratt, the new coin had two very different innovations related to its design. One was the realism used in the portrait of the Indian brave on the obverse, and the other was the use of incuse design details. President Theodore Roosevelt, influenced by his friend, Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow, wanted the coinage of the country redesigned. His “pet crime” was to bypass the mediocre Charles Barber, the Mint Engraver. Roosevelt, who was now in his second term of office, wanted to reform the coinage of the United States, which he felt was “atrociously hideous.” He wanted the half eagle to use an American Indian as an emblem of liberty and to use the incuse design of the ancients.

The obverse shows a profile view of an authentic looking brave facing left. He is wearing a full headdress. Above him is LIBERTY and below is the date. Six five-pointed stars are on the left and seven are on the right. The reverse shows a standing eagle, reminiscent of the reverse of Saint-Gaudens’ eagle coin. Pratt fit the four inscriptions on the reverse without it seeming overcrowded. E PLURIBUS UNUM is in the left field, and IN GOD WE TRUST is in the right. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, the words separated by dots is above, and FIVE DOLLARS is below. The eagle stands on a bundle of arrows that resembles the Roman fasces, symbol of the power to kill, and holds an olive branch, symbol of peace. The use of realism in the obverse portrait was innovative because prior designed Indian head motifs used stylized busts and fanciful war bonnets. Although the name and tribe of Pratt’s Indian brave are unknown, he is clearly authentic looking. Pratt’s use of this figure is seen as an extension of a trend started in 1899 with the portrait of “Running Antelope” on the five dollar silver certificate. The incuse design of the coin was also an innovation for United States coinage. No regularly circulating coin ever made use of this process before. It was criticized by numismatists and people in banking and commerce. They felt that the coins would not stack, could be easily counterfeited, and were unsanitary because dirt would get into the incused features. However, despite this opposition, the public was indifferent, and the coins remained in production and circulation until 1929, when the Great Depression caused general economic upheaval. Bela Lyon Pratt, born in 1867 in Norwich Connecticut, was an art educator, sculptor, and medalist. After graduating from the Yale School of Fine Arts at the age of sixteen, he joined the Art Students League of New York where he took classes with, among others, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who became his mentor. Pratt then traveled to Europe where he studied sculpture. He finished first in his class at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1892. When he returned to the United States he worked with August Saint-Gaudens and created two large sculpture groups for the Columbian Exposition in 1893. From then until his death in 1917 he was a Professor of Sculpture at the Boston Museum School of Fine Art. In addition to the coinage designs of 1908, Pratt had many commissions for medallions and medals. In 1909 Pratt did his most medal work; however, most of his 180 works were portrait reliefs and busts. He also did decorative architectural sculpture for buildings such as the Liberal Arts Building, the Buffalo Exposition, and the Library of Congress. He was a member of the National Sculpture Society, the National Academy of Design, the Architectural League, and he was founder of the Guild of Boston Artists.


Very Truly Yours,

Tom Pilitowski
Toll Free:
Email: TomPilitowski@yahoo.com


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