$10 Indian Head Gold Eagle
When William Mc Kinley was assassinated in 1901 in Buffalo, NY, most Americans had no idea how the new president, Teddy Roosevelt, would change things. By 1904 he began dealing with an issue that was very important to him – the redesign of our coinage. The Chief Engraver of the Mint, Charles E. Barber, was none too pleased with the president, as many of the current coinage designs were his own.
After election in 1904, Roosevelt made it a priority to speak to his good friend, Augustus Saint-Gaudens about changing the coinage designs. All four circulating gold coins could be redesigned, as well as the cent, all without any Congressional approval required, so Roosevelt urged Saint-Gaudens to get to work on the $10 Gold Eagle and the $20 Gold Double Eagle.
The current $10 Gold Eagle was the Liberty Head design created in the 1840s by James Longacre. The design had remained unchanged for over 40 years. Saint-Gaudens instead created something more original. He created the head of Liberty, facing left, wearing a large Indian war bonnet. 13 six-pointed stars were arranged along the periphery of the top of the obverse while the date was centered under Liberty.
The reverse had a large and majestic-looking eagle standing on a bundle of arrows and an olive branch. The legends “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” were placed above the eagle while the denomination was below her. There was no “IN GOD WE TRUST” motto on the coin as Roosevelt objected to using the deity’s name on coinage.
The edge was unusual in that the 46 United States were represented by 46 raised stars on the edge. With the addition of New Mexico and Arizona in 1912, coins dated 1912 and later all now had 48 raised stars on the edge.
The public liked the 1907 design but did not like that the reference to God was omitted. In 1908, the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” was restored to the coin and placed on the reverse in front of the eagle. The year 1908 will have coins struck both with and without the motto.
These coins were struck between 1907 and 1933, but the 1933 coins were not released and subsequently melted per President Franklin Roosevelt’s recall.
The History of the $10 Indian Gold Eagle Coin
The Indian Head (Gold Eagle) is considered one of the most stunning U.S. coins ever made. The $10 Indian Gold Eagle was minted from 1907-1933. Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed the obverse and reverse of the $2.50, $5 and $10 Indian Gold Eagles. He was also the designer of the $20 Gold Double Eagle (St. Gaudens), but died of cancer before they went into circulation. They are one of the most desirable coins to own for collectors. Going forward, collectors for the $10 Gold Indian is only going to grow and become more difficult as fewer and fewer of them will be up for sale.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the $10 Indian was pure Roosevelt. The President insisted that Nike's laurel crown be replaced by an Indian war bonnet emblazoned with LIBERTY. He wanted to broaden the symbolism of American democracy to include and honor American Indians. Edges are starred. 46 stars from 1907-1911 and 48 stars from 1912-1933. Coins were minted in D (Delaware), S (San Francisco) and P (Philadelphia). The Philadelphia Mint coins do not display mint marks.
- $10 Indian Gold Eagles, "Wire Rim" The first 500 $10 Indian gold eagles struck in 1907 were the so-called wire rim coins. To create dramatic relief, the fields of the coin's surface in the original design rose sharply to the edge, omitting the flattened rim typical of other U.S. gold coins. While beautiful, wire rims proved impractical because coins wouldn't stack properly and the edge could be easily broken. Charles Barber, the chief engraver, quickly designed a flat rim and changed the dies.
- $10 Indian Gold Eagles, "No Motto" The next 500,000 were struck, in 1907 and into 1908, were "No Motto" variety omitting the words IN GOD WE TRUST. Saint-Gaudens wanted to keep lettering to a minimum because he considered it an artistic intrusion. The pious Roosevelt preferred to exclude this motto because he felt it blasphemous to use the name of the deity on money, which could be applied to immoral ends.
- $10 Indian Gold Eagles, "With Motto" Bowing to religious public opinion, in March 1908, Congress passed a bill requiring the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to appear on the coins. Roosevelt reluctantly signed it into law. Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber added the words “With Motto (In God We Trust)” and made some minor changes to the original design. This motto appeared on most of the gold eagles struck in 1908 and all issues thereafter until Franklin Roosevelt ordered the production of gold coins to stop in 1933.
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