From the NGC Archives: 1913-S Indian Head Half Eagle
Posted on 1/20/2009
The early 20th-century was a time of sharp departure from tradition at the United States Mint. Exciting things were happening in the art world, and this experimentation eventually found expression on US coins. Easily the most radical design to come from this period was the Indian Head and Eagle composition common to the quarter eagle ($2.50) and half eagle ($5) coins of 1908-29. Designed and sculpted by Bela Lyon Pratt, these pieces featured their relief elements sunken below the fields of the coin. This style had been advocated by Dr. William S. Bigelow, an acquaintance of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was himself the prime mover behind the coinage redesign.
As a type, the Indian Head Half Eagle is scarce in mint state. This is especially true of ones coined at the San Francisco Mint. This attractive 1913-S specimen is one of fewer than 100 mint state survivors known, by the estimate of David Akers, author of the definitive reference on 20th-century US gold coins. Akers described the 1913-S edition as follows: "The strike is typically only average to good and the mintmark is usually very weak and little more than a shapeless 'blob.'" While its mintmark is indeed quite soft, this coin is otherwise quite sharp, and it has bright, satisfying luster.
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