Coin Specifications

Category: Indian Head $5 (1908-1929)
Mint: Denver
Mintage: 148,000
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: $290.16 (3/28/2015)
Diameter: 21.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1908 D $5 MS obverse 1908 D $5 MS reverse

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There are no varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

There are numerous connections between noted sculptors-coin designers Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Bela Lyon Pratt, Saint-Gaudens assistant Henry Hering, and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Saint-Gaudens, of course, achieved renown both as a sculptor and designer of the double eagle and eagle coins that bear his name. Bela Lyon Pratt (1867-1917), designer of the incused Indian Head quarter eagle and half eagles, was a Norwich, Connecticut, native who began study at age 16 at the Yale School of Fine Arts. At age 19 he entered the Art Students League in New York, where Saint-Gaudens taught. On Saint-Gaudens' recommendation Pratt studied at Paris' cole des Beaux-Arts, returning to the United States in 1892. He was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts in 1894. Pratt was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Yale in 1899. (A note in Roger Burdette's seminal Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908 notes that 'Pratt was not one of Augustus' assistants, and may have considered The Saint more of a competitor than mentor.' Nonetheless, the Yale website identifies Pratt as Saint-Gaudens 'former assistant.')

Yale's famous statue of Revolutionary War hero-martyr Nathan Hale, which stands on the Old Campus outside of Connecticut Hall where Hale slept as a Yale student, is a Bela Lyon Pratt design. The alumni donors who commissioned the statue were unable to afford Saint-Gaudens' fee, so they turned to Pratt for the design. In Yale's Memorial Hall (part of Woolsey Hall), a memorial to the Yale graduates who gave their lives in the Civil War is graced by four statues, 'Peace, Devotion, Memory, and Courage,' designed by Saint-Gaudens' assistant Henry Hering. According to the Yale site, 'Dynamic crevices and profound shadows temper the rigid austerity of the cold marble bodies, connecting this monument stylistically to the work of Hering's mentor, the celebrated turn-of-the-century American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.'

When the novel, incused Indian Head-design quarter eagles and half eagles made their debut in 1908, no less prominent a numismatist than Samuel H. Chapman fired off a pointed criticism of the design to President Roosevelt, objecting to--among other things--the eagle, the Indian's portrait, and the incuse design. Roosevelt sent the objections on to his friend William Sturgis Bigelow, whose impetus for the incuse coinage led to his hiring Pratt to model the designs. Bigelow refuted the objections point by point, to which Chapman provided a rebuttal, but in any case the gold coinage proceeded, although little loved at the time.

Despite a plentiful mintage of 148,000 coins, the 1908-D is a difficult issue to obtain in Gem grade. Most survivors average MS62 or thereabouts.

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


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 7/14/2014

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

1908 D $5 MS
Base $ 435 445 455 465 475 475 500 510 550 560 575 725 1100 2050 4050 42000 - - - - -
$ 480 505 515 555 570 600 800 1375 2700 4750 - - - -

The World Coin Price Guide is independently compiled by Krause Publications’ NumisMaster. NGC makes this information available to its website visitors as a free service, but in no way does the information provided represent NGC’s official opinion or policy. For example, varieties listed in the World Coin Price Guide may not necessarily be recognized by NGC. Please contact NGC Customer Service with any questions.

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Total Graded: 2757
Low Grade: 40
Average Grade: 62
High Grade: 65

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
8/16/1999 NGC AU 55   Teletrade Auction 1199, 1199/Lot# 1992 $242.65
5/27/2007 PCGS MS 63   Goldberg May 27-30, 2007 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 41/Lot# 1634 $2,990.00
6/25/2007 NGC MS 62   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 153, 158/Lot# 2942 $1,063.75
6/1/2011 NGC MS 63   Heritage Auctions 2011 June Long Beach Signature US Coin Auction Session(3), 1156/Lot# 4675 $1,725.00
5/30/2012 NGC MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2012 May 30- June 3 US Coins Signature Auction- Long Beach Session(3), 1171/Lot# 5080 $3,220.00
6/9/2013 PCGS MS 63   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/09/2013, 78/Lot# 121523 $1,565.63
7/27/2013 NGC MS 64   Stack's Bowers The August 2013 Chicago ANA World's Fair of Money , 192/Lot# 5219 $3,102.00
2/16/2014 PCGS MS 63   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 02/16/2014, 174/Lot# 171815 $1,496.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1908 D $5 MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 64
Points: 3470
Owner: Alan Lastufka
Grade: MS 64
Points: 3470
Owner: H.I.M.
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