Jeff Garrett continues his discussion of Saint-Gaudens coinage with a brief overview of the Indian Head Ten Dollar series.
In my last article, we discussed the incredible popularity of Saint-Gaudens coinage. Now I will give you a brief tour of the individual issues and discuss some of the interesting aspects of each one. Let’s start with the Indian Head Ten Dollar series.
As with the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles, 1907 $10 gold coins were produced in several formats:
1907 Periods, Wire Rim. Mintage: 500. This issue was the initial concept coin for the series. Only 500 were struck and most were saved. Very few are seen in circulated grades. The surfaces of the 1907 Wire Rim are different than that seen on other dates of the series. The coins have raised lines that are sometimes hard to differentiate from hairlines. Several nearly perfect examples are known with the single highest graded MS 69 by NGC.
1907 Periods, Rolled Edge. Mintage: 42. The Rolled Edge was the first regular production eagle of the new Saint-Gaudens design. The mintage was quite high, however, all but 42 coins were melted. Nearly all survivors are Gem or nearly so. A few circulated or polished coins are known. In the 1980s a few Rolled Edge eagles appeared on the market. In recent years prices have soared and many have appeared for sale usually above $200,000. The finest seen for the issue are at the MS 67 level. Several years ago NGC certified an example as Specimen 67. The coin was clearly different and probably struck from a medal press. Interestingly, another Specimen example surfaced a few years ago in the estate of Mint Director Leach. The coins were nearly identical and the Leach example sold for over $2 million at auction.
1907 No Periods. Mintage: 239,406. After some tinkering by Charles Barber, the No Periods became the final accepted design. Many were saved, and this issue is one of the most available in Gem condition. NGC has graded two in MS 68 and the price record for the issue is nearly $150,000. The Smithsonian collection contains the absolute finest known for this date—or any other for that matter. The coin is nearly perfect and would easily grade MS 69!
1908 No Motto. Mintage: 33,500. The design for the 1908 No Motto is identical to the 1907 No Periods but it is a much rarer issue. Less than 50 have been graded by NGC in MS 65 to MS 67. The surfaces of most examples seen are rather flat with less-than-radiant luster. A few famous examples exist, namely the Eliasberg and Thaine Price specimens. NGC has graded one piece at the MS 68 level.
1908-D No Motto. Mintage: 210,000. This issue is very rare at the top level and one of the most difficult to locate in Gem condition. Like its Philadelphia counterpart, the 1908-D No Motto is usually found with dull luster and is softly struck. NGC has graded three coins as MS 67, but none have appeared at auction. Notable examples include the Kruthoffer and Eliasberg specimens.
1908 Motto. Mintage: 341,486. President Roosevelt thought is was immoral to have God’s name placed on our coinage. Congress disagreed and in the latter part of 1908 the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was restored to eagles and double eagles. Most examples seen are well struck with above average luster. Choice and Gem examples are scarce, but can be obtained with minimal effort. An NGC MS 68 was offered privately at a recent convention for $65,000.
1908-D Motto. Mintage: 836,500. The mintage for the issue is nearly one million, but most seen are circulated or have heavy bag marks. Many were shipped overseas and Mint State examples are quite often dirty in appearance. Fully Gem examples are very rare. Less than a dozen have been graded at the top levels. The Eliasberg specimen (which was obtained by Clapp at the time of issue) is certainly the finest known example.
1908-S. Mintage: 59,850. The mintage for this issue is quite low, but surprisingly several really incredible examples survive. The date is quite popular and is one of the more difficult coins to locate in mint state for the average collector. Many of the superb examples seen have deep splashes of copper toning. A few of the superb examples were found in the coins sold by the heirs of Virgil Brand to MTB in the early 1980s. The finest graded is certified MS 69 by NGC!
1909. Mintage: 184,789. The 1909 Philadelphia $10 is one of the true condition rarities of the series. Examples in low Mint State grades can be found relatively easy. Gem examples are very rare. Most examples are well struck with the usual dirty surfaces.
1909-D. Mintage: 121,540. This issue was one of the favorites of the late collector Robert Kruthoffer. In the 1970s he recognized the rarity of the issue. Most of the known examples are circulated or in the lower range of Mint State. Very few have been graded at the Gem level and prices escalate rapidly for high grade examples.
1909-S. Mintage: 292,350. In Choice condition, most examples seen are well struck with satiny surfaces. In the last few decades a few small groups of Mint State examples have appeared on the market. Most seen are in the lower range. There are a few amazing examples known most of which were saved at the time of issue. These include the Eliasberg and Norweb examples. The finest graded is a single MS 68 example at NGC.
1910. Mintage: 318,500. Although the mintage is relatively low compared to other common issues, the 1910 can be found in most grades below Gem with modest effort. The date is usually well struck with light yellow gold colorations. The finest known example, an NGC MS 68, sold at auction in 2006 for $63,250.
1910-D. Mintage: 2,356,640. This date is by far the most common branch-mint Indian Head $10 gold coin. Many were melted, but large numbers were exported to Europe and have been repatriated over the last few decades. Many seen have deep green gold colorations. There are quite a few known in MS 66, but surprisingly less than 10 have been certified as MS 67 and none at MS 68.
1910-S. Mintage: 811,000. Despite a relatively high mintage approaching 1 million coins, the 1910-S is very rare in Choice condition. The date can be considered one of the true condition rarities of the series. Most examples were melted and just a few are known in Gem condition. An MS 66 example sold at auction in 2009 for $120,750. The retail value of an MS 60 example is under $2,000. With the melt value of a $10 Indian currently around the $900 level, these can be considered an incredible bargain! The same can be said for many other issues of the series.
1911. Mintage: 505,000. The 1911 is among the most common date for the series. Large numbers were shipped to Europe and coins continue to return to the states. Most of these are circulated or in the lower range of Mint State. Gem examples can be found with some patience. There are 20 or so coins known in MS 67 and a few are certified as MS 68 by NGC. The 1911 Indian Head $10 makes a great type coin, as most are well struck, with minimal marks.
1911-D. Mintage: 30,100. The 1911-D is the undisputed condition rarity of the Indian Head $10 series. Many great collections have lacked this date in gem condition. The Smithsonian examples grade MS 62 at best. Just a few coins have been graded as MS 65 and none above that level! The Norweb coin was saved at the time of issue and stands as one of the finest known. The coin sold for $132,000 in 1988, a price record that stood for nearly 20 years. The coin resides in a prominent Eastern collection. The 1911-D Quarter Eagle captures most of the attention for 1911-D coinage, but that issue pales in comparison to the 1911-D Indian Ten Dollar.
1911-S. Mintage: 51,000. At one time this date was considered on par with the elusive 1911-D issue. Starting in the 1970s small groups were discovered in coins that had been shipped to Europe in the 1930s. The Smithsonian’s example of the date grades just extremely fine. The collection, of course, was formed before the European discoveries. The issue is still quite rare with relatively few known in Choice and Gem condition. In my opinion, the date is an underrated issue at current price levels.
Questions about the rare coin market? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.