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: $289.34 (11/27/2014)
Diameter: 21.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1908 D $5 MS obverse 1908 D $5 MS reverse


  
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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.


GRADE SUMMARY

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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
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
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 - - - -
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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 2733
Low Grade: 40
Average Grade: 62
High Grade: 65


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
8/2/2000 PCGS MS 63   Heritage Auctions Exclusively Internet Auction #20081, 20081/Lot# 1416 $725.00
9/10/2006 NGC MS 63   Goldberg September 10-13, 2006 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 37/Lot# 2132 $2,645.00
2/22/2013 PCGS   Stack's Bowers The March 2013 Baltimore Auction, 181/Lot# 8101 $417.13
7/7/2013 PCGS MS 63   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 759, 768/Lot# 353 $1,705.00
7/29/2013 PCGS MS 63   Teletrade Auction 3441, 3441/Lot# 2176 $1,350.00
7/6/2014 NGC MS 64   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 07/06/2014, 188/Lot# 202632 $2,750.00
10/8/2014 PCGS VF 25   Heritage Auctions 2014 October 8 - 13 PNG New York Invitational US Coins Signature Auction - New York Session(1), 1210/Lot# 3062 $940.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1908 D $5 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base92010211039105710751084109211011157119612481284158919532579347094451022010566283014898984681
9531027104510631078108610951119117012131260138517102161287654619703103351647735197608860
0000001095111911701213126013851710216128765461970310335164773519700
0000001098113811831230127214871831237031737453996110450223894209300
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 64
Points: 3470
Owner: H.I.M.
 
Grade: MS 63
Points: 2579
Owner: SSGI
 
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