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: 8.3600g
AGW: 0.2420oz
Melt Value: $327.23 (7/31/2016)
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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VarietyPlus®

There are no NGC 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.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 10/12/2015

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

1908 D $5 MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 435 445 455 465 475 500 510 550 570 585 725 1150 1850 3850 45000 - - - - -
$ - - - - - - - 1425 2500 4950 - - - -

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 2745
Low Grade: 40
Average Grade: 62
High Grade: 65


Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
8/2/2016 MS 63   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(2), 131631/Lot# 22158
8/14/2016 MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2016 August 10 - 14 ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Anaheim Session(5), 1238/Lot# 5890
8/14/2016 MS 60   Heritage Auctions 2016 August 10 - 14 ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Anaheim Session(6), 1238/Lot# 8461


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
6/9/2004 PCGS MS 62   Teletrade Auction 1894, 1894/Lot# 1833 $550.00
5/29/2011 NGC MS 63   Goldberg May 29 - June 1, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Auction of US, World Coins and Currency, 63/Lot# 1545 $2,012.50
7/29/2012 PCGS MS 64   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(2), 131232/Lot# 21298 $3,172.50
6/9/2013 PCGS MS 63   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/09/2013, 78/Lot# 121523 $1,565.63
7/7/2013 PCGS MS 63   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 759, 768/Lot# 353 $1,705.00
11/1/2013 NGC MS 63   Heritage Auctions 2013 November 1 - 3 US Coin Signature Auction - New York Session(4), 1191/Lot# 4664 $2,115.00
3/28/2014 NGC MS 64   Stack's Bowers March 2014 Baltimore Auction, 6008/Lot# 6247 $2,585.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1908 D $5 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base102810441059107310881103111711381159120612391290158919532579347094451022610566000
103310491064107810931108112411451175121712561390171021622876546297051033910566000
000000112411451175121712561390171021622876546297051033910566000
000000113111521190122812731489183223703173745399661045310566000
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 64
Points: 3470
Owner: H.I.M.
 
Grade: MS 61
Points: 1589
Owner: Lauderdale
 
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