Minted from 1907 - 1916 and then only sporadically through 1933, the $10 Indian Head Gold Eagle is another creation of August Saint-Gaudens.
$10 Indian Head Gold Eagle - The Design
Miss Liberty is featured on the obverse wearing a stylized Indian war bonnet at the urging of President Theodore Roosevelt. The reverse carries a regal standing Eagle clutching a bundle or arrows.
The $10 Indian Head Gold Eagle coins composition is 90% gold 10% silver and copper, withing 16.718 grams and is 27mm in diameter. The edge of this gold coin is unique also. From 1907 to 1911 it carried 46 raised stars around the edge. From 1912 to 1933 an additional 2 stars were added for new states added to the union for a total of 48 stars.
Charles Barber, Chief Engraver of the Mint, was not exactly a supporter of Saint-Gaudens designs because of the technical problems the design created. The first issue of the coin is a perfect example of these problems. The 1907 Wire Rim with Periods had a sharp rim around the edge. Besides being difficult to mint the coin was impossible to stack more than 2 or 3 high. Only 542 were minted.
Barber revised the next version using the typical rounded rim most of us are familiar with today. Several thousand of this version were minted for circulation but only 50 were released, the rest being melted on Mint orders.
New coin models arrived from Saint-Gaudens estate that replaced the original designs. It is these designs that became known as the 1907 NO PERIODS design and was used for part of 1908.
Though well accepted by the public the coins were criticized for leaving off the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. Roosevelt insisted it was a sign of disrespect to use the Almighty's name on coinage.
However, Congress stepped in and mandated the motto be added, which it was, mid-1908. Production of the $10 Indian Head Gold Eagle was sporadic after 1916 and ended entirely in 1933 with Franklin Roosevelt's decree against private ownership of gold.
$10 Indian Head Gold Eagle History
For collectors and investors alike the $10 Indian Head Gold Eagle is a great coin. Saint-Gaudens design has a history all of its own and the following video provides a great overview of why this beautiful coins are so special.
$10 Indian Head Gold Eagle - Collecting
To be fair to Saint-Gaudens the early stumbles in minting the gold coins were not his fault entirely. He was after all a sculptor not a coin modeler and didn't have a clear understanding of the technical requirements of minting coins.
On the other hand, Barber was not entirely supportive of Saint-Gaudens feeling that coin engraving was well within his purview as the Mint's Chief Engraver.
Regardless, the resulting design of the $10 Indian Head Gold Eagle is spectacular and one of the favorites of gold coin collectors.
Today, the $10 Indian Head Gold Eagle is widely available at reasonable prices, many times at just above melt value. There are, though, some key dates, 1911-D 1931-S 1915-S 1920-S 1930-S, that have appreciated greatly over the years to astronomical sums.
Numismedia's Fair Market Value Price Guide is a great resource for $10 Indian Head Gold Eagle Prices.
The $10 Indian Head Gold Eagle is sought after by collectors and investors alike. If you're interested in collecting American Gold Coins but aren't sure where to start there's an excellent article for first time gold coin buyers Buying Gold Coins for Beginners that is excellent.