America’s oldest coin program was known simply as the “Eagle.” As of the 21st century, no American coin has been in circulation longer than the original run of the Eagle coinage. The coins debuted as $10 (USD) gold coins from the United States Mint as its first-ever striking in 1792. The Gold Eagles, as the coins would become known collectively, were offered in varying denominations from 1792 until the end of the gold standard in the United States in 1933. The primary offering of the series was the $10 Gold Eagle coin. Today, $10 Indian Gold Eagle coins are available to you through JM Bullion’s catalog of Pre-33 US Gold Coinage.
As mentioned, the Gold Eagle coins debuted from the US Mint in 1792 as a $10 (USD) coin. From the very beginning, the United States conceptually linked units of denomination in its coinage to precious or semi-precious metals. The cent coin was used as the base denomination for copper. The dime and dollar coins were the base unit for silver. The eagle coinage was the base denomination used for gold coins. There was one notable exception for eagles compared other coinage.
The United States never referred to eagle coins with specific denominations in units of “eagles.” Instead, the face value was referenced on the coins. For example, a Double Eagle was referenced as “Twenty Dollars” rather than “two eagles.” In total, the Gold Eagles grew to include the $10 Eagle as the standard denomination. The Half-Eagle bore a face value of $5 (USD), the Quarter-Eagle a face value of $2.50 (USD), and the Double Eagle a face value of $20 (USD).
Although there were occasional production caps, the $10 Gold Eagle was in full circulation by 1795 and remained there until 1933. It was the longest-running of the denominations as the Half-Eagle debuted in 1795 and ended in 1929, the Quarter-Eagle debuted in 1796 and ended in 1929, and the Double Eagle debuted significantly later in 1850 with an end date of 1933.
$10 Gold Eagles initially had a 22-karat gold content equivalent to roughly .9166 gold content. In 1834, US gold coin content was lowered to .8992 fineness to reflect the revaluation of gold-to-silver from 15:1 to 16:1. In 1837, gold content was adjusted slightly upward to a flat .900 fine gold, where it would remain until 1933.
Throughout the history of the $10 Gold Eagle coin, the United States Mint has used various depictions of Lady Liberty for the obverse side of the Gold Eagle. The first version came from Robert Scot, 1st Chief Engraver of the United States Mint and is known as the Turban Head Liberty design. The second iteration is known formally as Liberty Head Coronet and came from Christian Gobrecht. For both of these versions of Liberty, the heraldic eagle of the United States accompanied it as the reverse design.
The introduction of the $10 Indian Gold Eagle brought the most unique design to the series and was used from 1907 to 1933. It also came with the introduction of a fresh, new design for the American bald eagle on the reverse. Both images were designed by famed artist-sculptor-engraver Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
Saint-Gaudens had been approached directly by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 to help with some engravings. President Roosevelt was displeased with the design of American coinage already, feeling it did not match the nation’s growing international standing. When the then-Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, Charles E. Barber, delivered a subpar design of President Roosevelt’s inauguration medal, he’d had enough. Saint-Gaudens was commissioned to work both on a medal for Roosevelt’s inauguration and new coin designs.
He would use as his point of emphasis a previous design of Liberty in left-profile relief he had created for the cent coinage. The cent design itself came from a sculpting Saint-Gaudens had completed for the statue of Victory in the William Tecumseh Sherman Monument in New York City. The design was never used for the statue, but did appear on the cent. It featured Liberty in left-profile relief with a wreath crown and her hair in a tight bun.
For the $10 Indian Gold Eagle, President Roosevelt requested the inclusion of a Native American headdress on Liberty. Saint-Gaudens responded with the creation of a Liberty portrait that maintained her soft, feminine facial features with the inclusion of a Native American headdress as typically worn by male figures. A half-circle of 13 stars hung above Liberty’s head with the year of issue engraved below.
On the reverse of the $10 Indian Gold Eagle Coins, Saint-Gaudens created the image of an American bald eagle standing on a cluster of arrows wrapped in an olive branch. This offered a different look and feel from the heraldic eagle, while maintaining the important symbolism of the bald eagle, the arrows of war, and olive branch of peace. The bird stands in a slightly left-profile relief with its chest out and wings back at its side.
The original 1907 Indian Gold Eagle coins featured engravings on the reverse of “United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” and “Ten Dollars.” However, as with many other coins of the early 20th century, the exclusion of the national motto “In God We Trust” was met with displeasure among the populace. From 1908 onward, the $10 Indian Gold Eagle coins featured the engraving of “In God We Trust” located to the left of the design field just off the eagle’s breast below the “U” in the national engraving and above the leaves of the olive branch.
The $10 Indian Gold Eagle coinage was produced by the San Francisco Mint, Denver Mint, and Philadelphia Mint. The specimens produced by the Philadelphia Mint never featured mint marks on the surfaces. A small number of 1908 $10 Indian Gold Eagles were struck by the Denver Mint without the national motto and these coins feature the “D” mint mark in the space later occupied by “In God We Trust.” All other specimens from the San Francisco and Denver Mints issued with the motto from 1908 onward have an “S” or “D” on the reverse to the left of the arrow on which the eagle is standing.
The United States Mint initially produced the $10 Indian Gold Eagle design in every year from 1907 to 1916. During World War I, however, gold coins commanded a high premium above the engraved face value. That, coupled with gold pieces of other varieties returning home from Europe to pay for war materials resulted in little need for new gold coins to be issued. Striking of new coins was discontinued in 1916. The Indian Gold Eagle would be struck in subsequent years at the San Francisco Mint (1920), the Philadelphia Mint (1926), again at the San Francisco Mint (1930), and the final issues from the Philadelphia Mint (1932-1933).
The United States Mint had wild fluctuations in production during its history. Generally speaking, during the 1907-1916 production period the coins were struck with figures ranging from 240,000 to 800,000. There were, however, some significant exceptions on both ends of the scale during this period.
For example, the combined coinage in 1908 (no motto, with motto, with mint marks) was nearly 1.5 million coins. In 1909, the combined issue of mint-marked and non-mint marked coins was roughly 500,000 coins. The lowest total during the initial production run was 1916 when just 138,500 coins were issued with the “S” mint mark of the San Francisco Mint. The highest mintage during this period was 1910 when there were 3.486 million coins issued.
The lone issues made during the 1920s and 1930s saw varying demand. The 1920 coins had a mintage of only 126,500 coins. The 1926 coin shot up to 1,014,00 coins. The 1930 coins again sank to just 96,000 (the lowest total ever in the series). The highest mintage of $10 Indian Gold Eagles was the 1932 issue from the Philadelphia Mint with a total of 4,463,000 coins issued.
If you’re interested in buying gold in the $10 Indian Gold Eagle series or other Pre-33 US Gold Coins from JM Bullion, please feel free to reach out to us. You can call us at 800-276-6508, chat with us live online, or simply send us an email with your inquiries.