HomeGold BullionGold CoinsPre-1933 US Gold Coins$2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles
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The $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles were introduced to United States coinage circulation in 1908. They were designed by Bela Lyon Pratt, a Bostonian sculptor, and were identical in design to the $5 Indian Gold Half Eagle Coins. Like the $5 Indian Head Gold Eagle, the $2.50 coin also featured a recessed design.
In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt decided that it was time to implement new coinage since the same four coin designs had been in circulation for more than 60 years. He took a personal interest in the design and minting of new coins and commissioned Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign the Gold Double Eagle and Eagle coins.
The four coins that were in circulation before Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ designs went into production all featured Lady Liberty wearing a coronet. After the Eagle and Double Eagle coins made their debut in 1907, Bela Lyon Pratt was added to the design team to create two smaller coins, including the $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles.
The Indian design replaced that on the previous Quarter Eagle coin, the $2.50 Liberty Gold Quarter Eagle, which was in circulation for over 60 years prior to the new design change. One unique fact about the $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles when they were designed was that the images were sunken into the coin so that the coin was uniformly flat. Basically, the highest point of the design was level with the rims. This was done to protect the coins from wear. This concept came from William Sturgis Bigelow, a physician and art lover who was friends with President Roosevelt.
The obverse of the $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles featured an Indian brave wearing a war bonnet, along with 13 stars, the date, and “Liberty” forming a circle around the Indian. The reverse side depicts an eagle and an olive branch, two symbols that stand for peace and preparedness. There are also four inscriptions on the reverse of the $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagle: “In God We Trust,” “United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” and the value of the coin. Even though all of this information is found on the coin, it doesn’t appear too cramped.
The design of $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles received mixed reviews from the public. They appreciated the artistic merits of the design but did not think that the eagle and Indian were well represented. Others thought that the coin did not stack properly. Samuel H. Chapman, a coin dealer, was a particular critic of the design of the $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagle. He was adamant that the sunken design would lead to an accumulation of filth that would spread disease. However, President Roosevelt supported the coin’s design regardless of the criticism.
The $2.50 Indian Head Gold Quarter Eagles were produced annually from 1908 to 1915. Then, the mint was suspended for a decade because of the First World War. It resumed production in 1925, but these coins only stayed in production until 1929. The $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles fell victim to the Wall Street crash and following depression. These coins, along with many others, ceased production at that time and never returned to circulation. New coins were designed after the Depression ended but were not struck in gold.
Because $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles have a recessed design, it is hard to grade them because they do not show normal patterns of wear. Therefore, their value is typically assigned based on the year of the mint and a general grading system. The place where wear can most be detected is on the cheeks of the Indian and the headdress feathers. The shoulder of the eagle’s left wing can also be an indication of grade.
There were only 15 mint combinations ever produced of the $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles, 12 from the Philadelphia Mint and three from the Denver Mint. However, collectors don’t have much trouble getting them. There is only one variation that is considered rare, the 1911-D model from the Denver Mint. Many collectors in the 1920s were not interested in $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles because they had a matte finish that was not popular. Because of this, many of the original coins were melted down and used in other mint productions.
The $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagles have an interesting design and history which appeals to collectors and investors alike. They are a fun addition to any coin collection, and they can be purchased online from Silver.com. These coins are offered in several grades in both certified and uncertified, raw condition. Be sure to view our full selection and add one of these historical coins to your collection today.