$2.5 Indian Quarter Eagle
$2.50 Indian Head Gold Quarter Eagle
This was a coin whose genesis can be traced to President Teddy Roosevelt. In 1904, Roosevelt wanted new American coinage to look and feel like coins struck by the Greeks and Romans – coins with allegorical symbolism and very high relief. He did not want the same old boring coinage that we currently had.
Roosevelt wanted the Mint to redesign the four circulating gold coins ($2.50 - $5.00 - $10.00 - $20.00) and the cent. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Roosevelt’s friend, redesigned the $20 Double Eagle and the $10 Eagle gold coins first.
The Mint now turned its attention and efforts on redesigning the $2.50 and $5.00 gold coins. The original plan had been to duplicate the $20 gold piece in two smaller sizes but that proved impossible as the mottoes and legends required to be placed on the coins were too small to read on the smaller coins and the coins could not be struck in high relief. Roosevelt himself came up with the idea of creating and striking a coin with a recessed design so that it would look like it was struck in high relief. Boston sculptor, Bela Lyon Pratt, was familiar working with recessed dies and proceeded to strike coins that met the requirements. Recessed designs would protect the designs from early wear and allow the coins to be easily stacked.
The $2.50 Quarter Eagle and the $5.00 Half Eagle are identical in design except for size and denomination. Both feather the recessed, incuse style, which allows for the appearance of high relief.
The design depicts either an allegorical representation of Miss Liberty or a Native American man, wearing a native headdress, facing left. The motto “LIBERTY” is above his head and there are six five-pointed stars to the left and seven five-pointed stars to the right. The designer's initials, BLP, are found just above the date and the edge is reeded. On the reverse is a standing eagle, facing left, upon a bundle of arrows, and an olive branch in its left talon. The mintmark, if any, is to the left of the arrowheads near the edge of the coin. “UNITED STATES OF AMRICA” is above the eagle, “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is to the left and in front of the eagle while “IN GOD WE TRUST” is to the right and behind the eagle.
Philadelphia struck coins from 1908 through 1915 and then no $2.50 Quarter Eagles were struck until 1925. The coins circulated in the Western United States but not very much in the East. However, the outbreak of World War I in Europe caused the coins to be hoarded. Once they were struck again in 1925 at Denver and minted at Philadelphia until 1929 when the Mint stopped production.