The $10 Indian Head Eagle is considered to be one of America's most exquisite gold coins. The new gold coins of 1907 were the result of the unprecendented collaboration of great sculptor Augustus Saint-Guadens and President Theodore Roosevelt. The bust of the new Eagle was almost identical to the Nike head (Victory) that Saint-Gaudens designed for Sherman's monument in New York's Central Park. At Roosevelt's insistence, she shed her laurel crown for a handsome Indian feathered war bonnet.
The $10 Liberty Head Eagle was designed by U.S. Mint engraver Christian Gobrecht who was inspired by the portrait of Venus in Benjamin West's Painting Omnia Vincit Amor (Love Conquers All). This design also became the prototype for the half-eagle and large cent of 1839. Mr. Gobrecht also designed the $2½ Liberty Head and the $5 Liberty Head gold coins.
The $2½ Indian, or Pratt Quarter Eagle was named after sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt, a former student of Saint-Gaudens. Unlike Saint-Gaudens, who had come up with different designs for the Double Eagle and Eagle, Pratt provided identical portraits of a Native American Chief for both of the smaller coins. The Pratt Half and Quarter Eagle series ended in 1929—one of many victims of that year's Wall Street crash. With the cessation of gold coinage and the great recall of 1934, the Quarter Eagle would not return.
Beginning in 1834, the Mint began a search for a suitable design that could serve as an enduring symbol of American gold coins. In that year Engraver William Kneass executed a head of Liberty for quarter eagles and half eagles that became known as the Classic design. Christian Gobrecht's Coronet design was used on the Quarter Eagle in 1840 until the Indian Head design was introduced in 1908.
America's largest circulating gold coin was the Double Eagle or $20 gold piece, born in the exciting years of the great California Gold Rush of 1849. The new mines yielded the greatest mass of gold in recorded history. Vast quantities of the yellow metal helped to speed development of the American West and had far-reaching effects on the world's coinage. Designed by James B. Longacre, the obverse (front) of the $20 Liberty gold coin features Miss Liberty wearing a crown inscribed with the word "Liberty". Thirteen stars representing the original thirteen colonies and the date encircle her.
The centerpiece of America's 20th century "gold standard" was The Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, or $20 gold piece, which stands above the rest as the single most magnificent coin of this—or any— era in U.S. history. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt hired personal friend and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to design the new $20 and $10 coins. The Saint-Gaudens $20 design was so acclaimed that the Mint chose to use this design for the creation of the modern Gold American Eagle coins.
The $5 Indian Head Half Eagle, or $5 gold piece, was a coin with considerable clout in the early 1900s. After all, it represented a full day's pay for well-paid workers. These Indian Head gold pieces are unlike any other coins produced before or since by Uncle Sam: Their designs and inscriptions are sunken below the surface of the coins, rather than being raised. Sadly many $5 Indians were melted down due to President Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order of April 5, 1933.
The $5 gold Liberty Head Half Eagle was familiar in American economic life. It had been in constant use since the early days of the Republic and was one of the longest lasting denominations in United States history. The Liberty Half Eagle was also designed by Christian Gobrecht who was strongly influenced by Neoclassicism. The $5 Liberty was minted until 1908 when the $5 Indian Head coin was introduced.
The Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985 authorized the United States Mint to issue one-tenth, one-quarter, one-half, and one ounce gold bullion coins. The law required the gold to come from American sources. The American Gold Eagle coins were first issued in 1986. The obverse of the American Gold Eagles is a modified version of the Augustus Saint-Gauden's design for the $20 gold piece. The reverse features a "family of eagles" design by Miley Busiek.
Year: 1986-Present Obverse Designer: Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Description: Modified design of Saint Gauden's U.S. $20 Gold Coin Design, "Standing Liberty".
Reverse Designer: Mrs. Miley Frances Busiek
Description: "Family of Eagles" motif, symbolizing family tradition and unity.
Political pressure, not public demand, brought the Morgan dollar into being. There was no real need for a new silver dollar in the late 1870s; the last previous "cartwheel," the Liberty Seated dollar, had been legislated out of existence in 1873. The beautiful Morgan Silver Dollar was sculpted by George T. Morgan and is considered by experts to be the peak of the engraver's art. Morgan Silver Dollars were minted between 1878 and 1904. Then in 1921, Morgan Dollars were again minted as an encore and the last year of the series. Gem quality uncirculated Morgan Dollars are sought after by coin collectors and investors alike.
The "war to end all wars" fell far short of that noble aspiration. What history now refers to as World War I, which ravaged Europe from 1914 to 1918, did stir worldwide yearning, however, for peace. Following the war, there was widespread sentiment for issuance of a coin that would celebrate and commemorate the restoration of peace. First struck in 1921 the Peace silver dollar instantly becamse one of the most popular silver coins in American history. Many consider this silver coin to be the last "true" American silver dollar minted for circulation.
The first Platinum Eagles were struck in 1997 in one-tenth, one-quarter, one-half, and one ounce sizes. All share the same obverse design, a Statue of Liberty motif, and the uncirculated issues have a flying eagle reverse design. Proofs have a different design each year, which is unique among the American Eagle bullion coin series.
Obverse Engraver: John Mercanti
Description: "Portrait of Liberty," Lady Liberty looking toward future.
The American Silver Eagle was first issued in 1986 and since then more than 200 million silver eagles have been struck. The Silver Eagle is a very collectible modern issue. With the recent rise in silver spot prices the coin's popularity has skyrocketed—ten of millions are struck each year. The American Silver Eagle was the first and, until 2012, the only silver bullion coin issued by the United States.
Obverse Designer: Adolph A. Weinman
Description: "Walking Liberty"
Reverse Engraver: John Mercanti
Description: Heraldic Eagle with Shield, symbolizing strength and endurance.