Coin Specifications

Category: Indian Head $5 (1908-1929)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 577,845
Catalog: KM-129
Obverse Designer: Bela Lyon Pratt
Reverse Designer: Bela Lyon Pratt
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 8.3590g
AGW: 0.2419oz
Melt Value: $321.17 (7/9/2014)
Diameter: 21.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1908 INDIAN $5 MS obverse 1908 INDIAN $5 MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

The initial-year mintage for the new Bela Lyon Pratt-designed half eagle was a generous production exceeding 577,000 examples, although the Philadelphia Mint in the following year would produce an even larger emission. Dr. William Sturgiss Bigelow had suggested the original design idea for the Indian Head half eagle to President Theodore Roosevelt, and Pratt had made the models. As usual, Mint personnel, in this case mint engraver Charles Barber, modified the final design for coinage production. Pratt was clearly uninvolved with the last step. In writing to his mother Sarah Pratt after being shown an sample half eagle by Bigelow, Bela Lyon Pratt wrote, as taken from Burdette's important work: 'After the first of November you can [get] all you want of my coins at any bank, but that is still a secret. They have 'knocked spots' out of my design at the mint. They let their die cutter spoil it, which he did most thoroughly, so try not to be too disappointed when you see the coins.. The little $2-1/2 coins don't look so badly but the $5 is a sight! I could not sleep for a night or two after I saw it. The first impression, which Dr. Bigelow showed me at the Symphony two weeks ago, looked quite well. But they tried to retouch it and gee! They made a mess of it! With a few deft touches the butcher or blacksmith, who is at the head of things there, changed it from a thing I was proud of, to one [of which] I am ashamed! Still it is the best coin the U.S. has ever had ...' Things went from bad to worse when Pratt even failed to get credit for the design. Many newspapers of the time, although mentioning that Pratt had 'made the models,' credited Bigelow with the design.

Although the designs were greeted with distaste in some quarters, fortunately, like many first-year issues, the coins were both well-produced and saved in considerable numbers, at least judging by the certified population data.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 8/13/2013

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1908 INDIAN $5 MS
Base $ 450 460 470 480 490 490 500 510 525 560 590 690 740 1810 3670 16000 28000 72000 - - -
$ 520 540 550 565 610 630 750 800 2130 4300 17500 37500 80000 -
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Total Graded: 7489
Low Grade: VF
Average Grade: 61
High Grade: 68

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
8/15/2005 NGC MS 61   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet-Only Auction #49, 54/Lot# 1753 $448.50
6/5/2006 NGC AU 58   Heritage Auctions 2006 June Long Beach Online Session #409, 409/Lot# 9109 $373.75
1/31/2010 PCGS MS 61   Goldberg January 31 - February 3, 2010 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 57/Lot# 2168 $483.00
12/8/2010 PCGS MS 64   Bonhams Coins and Banknotes, 18404/Lot# 2337 $3,042.00
2/28/2012 PCGS MS 62   Stack's Bowers The March 2012 Baltimore Auction, 135/Lot# 7607 $805.00
7/4/2012 PCGS AU 58   Teletrade Auction 3306, 3306/Lot# 2000 $425.00
11/25/2012 NGC MS 62   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131249/Lot# 26384 $705.00
6/5/2013 PCGS MS 62   Heritage Auctions 2013 June 5 - 9 US Coin Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(7), 1186/Lot# 8950 $705.00
7/6/2014 PCGS MS 64   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 07/06/2014, 188/Lot# 203014 $2,750.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1908 INDIAN $5 MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 64
Points: 3080
Owner: scotty's gold
Grade: MS 61
Points: 1589
Owner: Vespasian49
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