The $2.5 Indian Head or otherwise known as the “Quarter Eagle” is the last coin of this denomination ever minted by the U.S. Treasury. This piece is 1 of 4 pieces in the “Indian Head” series along with the Gold Half Eagle – $5, the Gold Eagle – $10 and the Gold Double Eagle – $20.
- Obverse: Native American man in headdress
- Reverse: Standing eagle
- Years: 1908-1915 and 1925-1929
- Mints: D and P
In 1907, during President Theodore Roosevelt’s 2nd term, he made the minting of new gold coins one of his top priorities. He sought out the minting of a new Eagle and Double Eagle and in addition a Half Eagle – $5 and a Quarter Eagle – $2.5 and a new cent. This specific piece, the $2.5 Indian Head was to replace the $2.5 Liberty Head which had been in circulation since 1840.
The man chosen by President Roosevelt to design the new coins was famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Sadly though, Saint-Gaudens passed away shortly after designing the $10 Indian Head and $20 Saint-Gaudens and did not get a chance to design the new $2.5 and $5 pieces. The new designer who stepped up was one of Saint-Gaudens’ former sculpting mentees, Bela Lyon Pratt. When Pratt finished his designs in 1908, minting for the $2.5 and $5 pieces began. Pieces from this year are considered rare.
During the beginning of World War I, the minting of gold coins ceased due to incredibly high gold prices brought on by the economic unrest of the war. While these pieces did not circulate often, they remained popular as gifts and saw thier value increase.
During the early 1920s, as the economy was booming, the $10 and $20 pieces became rarer and greatly appreciated in value. This led to an interest in minting more $2.5 and $5 pieces. So in 1925, minting began once again for the $2.5 Indian Head. For this second go around, the $2.5 was only produced at the Denver mint in 1925 and in Philadelphia from 1926-1929. Unfortunately, the onset of the Great Depression in the late 1920s completely changed the economy and there was no longer a need for minting gold pieces. In fact, in 1933, President Theodore Roosevelt’s distant cousin, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ended the minting of all gold coins in the country.
Being that these are the last Pre-1933 Gold pieces ever minted, the $2.5 Indian Head along with the whole “Eagle” collection are a must own for serious collectors. Anyone interested in completing a set of the $2.5 Indian Head would need to collect all 15 different date and mint mark combinations. Along with the 1908s, some of the other rare mints are the 1911-D, 1914-P & 1929-P.
Here at Atlas Gemstones & Rarities we have access to a wide range of $2.5 Indian Heads with a variety of dates and mint marks.