$2.5 Indian Head Quarter Eagle

The $2.5 Indian Gold coin was only minted for 13 years; it was designed by Bela Lyon Pratt and is identical except in size and denomination the the $5 Indian Head.

General Details

Coin Highlights

  • Composition is .12094 troy oz of gold (90% purity) and 10% copper alloy
  • Weight: 4.18 grams
  • Diameter: 18 mm
  • Designed by Bela Lyon Pratt (minted from 1908–1915, 1925–1929)
  • Reeded Edge

The $2.5 Indian Head Quarter Eagle, and its companion gold piece, the Indian Head Half Eagle, are identical in design and are often referred to as the Pratt-Bigalow Gold Coins. With only thirteen years of mintage, the $2.5 Indian Head Quarter Eagle is one of the shortest histories and fewest year and mint mark combinations of US numismatic coins. This fact, combined with its unique incuse, or recessed, design make the series a desirable addition to any investment portfolio or rare coin collection. The Indian Quarter and Half Eagles add an instant value because of their unusual sunken-relief design feature and the fact that they, collectively, followed the production of the Saint-Gaudens Indian Head Eagles. The Indian Head Quarter Eagles, except for the key date 1911-D, represents a series of gold coins that is easiest to complete.

History of the $2.50 Indian Head Quarter Eagle Gold Piece

As a coin type, the Quarter Eagle has long history that dates back to the Act of June 28, 1834. Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton lowered the the authorized weight of gold coins. The Bill passed. Later that year, Quarter Eagles and Half Eagles were made for general circulation. The Mint’s Chief Engraver at the time was William Kneass, designed these initial Quarter Eagles. Basically the design was a copy of Classic Liberty Head motif first used on the copper cent created by John Reich.

We at the Midas Gold Group would like to make special mention of Senator Thomas Hart Benton. He will certainly appear in other Midas Gold Group product descriptions of early American coinage because he was such a champion of “hard money.” Detesting paper money, he strongly believed that gold and silver coins were the only true basis for a sound money system.

As the main force behind the Coinage Act of June 28th, 1834, Senator Benton wanted gold coins, which hadn’t been minted or widely used since 1821, would once again circulate freely through American commerce.

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Jumping ahead 74 years to 1908, arguably the most daring and innovative period of American numismatics, we find the Quarter Eagle still active in daily use. The Quarter Eagle and Half Eagles were to be part of the design overhaul undertaken by Augustus Saint Gaudens, but ill health and conflicts with the old guard at the Mint, delayed things to the point that another sculptor had to be brought on to finish the job. President Teddy Roosevelt’s friend Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow, a fellow art lover and coin collector, had recommended Bela Lyon Pratt, a former student of Saint-Gaudens. Teddy Roosevelt readily accepted Pratt and the design work began. It was Bigelow who recommended the incuse method. That’s why the Half Eagle and Quarter Eagles are referred to as the Pratt-Bigelow Gold coins. Meanwhile, back at the Mint, Charles Barber was working on his own scaled down version of the Saint Gaudens Double Eagle to use on the much smaller Half Eagle and Quarter Eagle. Ultimately, Roosevelt approved Pratt’s design, subject to minor alterations requested by the Mint for technical production reasons. The same design was used for the Half Eagle. After production of the coins began, Bigelow showed the specimens to Pratt who was not pleased with the end result to say the least. The series would come to an end with the national tragedy of the Great Depression.

Indian Head Quarter Eagles should be checked for feather details on the headdress on the obverse and the highest part of the eagle on the reverse. In terms of Proofs, the Indian Head Quarter Eagles of 1908, and 1912, to 1915 are of the Sand Blast Proof finish, and those of 1910 and 1911 have the Satin Proof Finish. These later finishes were not popular with numismatist at the time, but have since become highly desirable.

Like the Indian Head Half Eagle, the Quarter Eagle is readily available from the first year of mintage. The other dates can be more challenging and demand a higher premium.

Remember, basic rarity never goes out of style. A good case in point for the Indian Head Quarter Eagle is the 1911-D. Condition rarity, on the other hand, for pieces that are common in grades such as MS-65 and MS-66 can be a tricky investment. If Quarter Eagles, in general, are appealing to you as a specialty, start by forming a type set and then build from there.

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Specifications
$2.5 Indian Head Quarter Eagle
#SpecificationValue
1Denomination$2.50
2FinishUncirculated
3Composition.9000 gold .1000 copper
4Diameter0.7087 inches (18 mm)
5Weight0.1209 troy oz (4.18 g)
6EdgeReeded
7DesignBela Pratt
8MintUS Mint
9Years of Mintage1908–1929
10IRA EligibleNo
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