Indian Head Gold Coins
Indian gold coins were the last U.S. gold coins minted for general circulation, which ran from 1907 until 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Gold Recall Act, Executive Order 6102, making gold illegal to own.
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to reform the bland U.S. coinage, commenting that America’s coinage at the time was “artistically of atrocious hideousness.” Roosevelt sought out the widely acclaimed artist and sculptor, Augustus Saint Gaudens, and asked him to redesign America’s gold coinage into works of art that America would be proud of. The result was two breakthrough designs for both the $20 Double Eagle, and $10 Indian Eagle in 1907.
Unfortunately, Saint Gaudens died before finishing the designs for the remainder of America’s new gold coinage. Saint-Gauden’s former student, Bela Lyon Pratt, developed Gold Indian designs for both the $5 Half Eagle and the $2.50 Quarter Eagle in 1908. Pratt developed innovative incuse Indian designs that was a shocking departure from all earlier U.S. coinage.
More importantly to American numismatics, Roosevelt began a renaissance in American money in the early 20th century, elevating U.S. coinage to the status of great art.