What Are Indian Head Quarter Eagles?

Posted by Derek Sawchenko on

Indian Head Quarter Eagles are some of the most innovative coins made to date. Described as both innovative and daring, the Indian Head Quarter Eagle was minted from 1908 through 1929.  These coins were issued annually from 1908 through 1915. At that point, the mint suspended their production for a decade. When minting resumed in 1925, the coins were struck for five more years before the series eventually ended in 1929.  These coins were commonly used as currency until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt requires Americans to turn in their gold coins to be melted down in an effort to combat the Great Depression.
     This coin showed a departure from the precedents previously set in United States Coinage. This coin was designed by a Boston sculptor by the name of Bela Lyon Pratt, a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Pratt came up with a design that would end up making this coin extremely unique. Pratt wanted to make a coin with an incused design. What this means is that the design would be sunken into the surface of the coin itself, as opposed to the design protruding from the surface of the coin as is traditionally done.  The obverse of the coin features the profile of a stoic Indian chief. The chief is surrounded by 13 small stars. Also located on the obverse of the coin is the word, “Liberty,” as well as the date from when the coin was minted. The reverse features the regal bald eagle that has become such a proud symbol of the United States of America. This eagle is found with a cluster of arrows and an olive branch in its talons, symbolizing both war and peace.
     The incused design of this coin makes the Indian Head Quarter Eagles just one of two U.S. coins to ever use this kind of design. Though this unique design may be a selling point today, this coin was not always so well received.  There was actually a lot of concern about this design when it was first released. Complaints about the coin went as follows; neither the Indian or the eagle were properly represented, germs would be trapped in the incused design and this would aid in the spreading of disease, the coins were thought to be unable to stack properly, and it was asserted that counterfeiting these coins would be made easier.  Despite these complaints, Pratt’s coins have come to be recognized as a big part of the early 20th-century renaissance of American Coinage. For more information on how you can get your hands on this unique piece of American history contact Certified Coin Consultants today!

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