In the 1950s and 1960s the 1911-D quarter eagle emerged as a key date in 20th century numismatics, as its low mintage of only 55,680 pieces was perceived as a mark of rarity.
While it is now known that a low mintage does not necessarily mean a coin is scarce, in the case of the 1911-D the correlation has remained legitimate.
Even following the advent of third party grading, when many issues previously thought to be scarce were discovered to be somewhat available, the 1911-D quarter eagle has remained an elusive and sought-after key issue.
The example offered here exhibits a solid strike, good luster and attractive color.
Only six have been graded higher by NGC, three of which are MS65+ representatives.
Listed at $52,000 in the CDN CPG (Grey Sheet), $54,000 in the NGC Price Guide and $55,000 in Trends.
Add this Key Date - Gem Quality - Below Grey Sheet to your Cart, Today!
Indian Head $2.50 Quarter Eagle
Indian Head quarter eagle never a health hazard By Michele Orzano
COIN WORLD Staff Augustus Saint-Gaudens was commissioned by President Roosevelt in 1905 to redesign the nation’s gold coinage.
The famed sculptor began in earnest, preparing designs for the Indian Head $10 gold eagle and the $20 double eagle – but was not able to offer new designs for other gold coins before he died in 1907.
That's when a young Boston sculptor and artist – Bela Lyon Pratt – entered the picture and the numismatic history books. A student of Saint-Gaudens at the Art Students League, Pratt also served as one of his assistants for a time. When Saint-Gaudens died, Pratt was given the assignment to complete the redesign efforts his mentor had started.
Pratt's work can be seen in his Indian Head designs for the gold $2.50 quarter eagle coin and the gold $5 half eagle coin.
The Indian Head design for both coins was introduced in 1908 and received mixed reviews.
Some praised his boldness in stepping away from the allegorical Liberty concept and replacing it with an intense-looking Indian wearing a feathered headdress and facing left. The obverse design was the first actual Indian to appear on U.S. coins.
Pratt's reverse design shows a majestic, standing eagle with denomination below the eagle.
The designs are the same for both denominations.
Pratt's new designs replaced Christian Gobrecht's Coronet-crowned Liberty design used on the obverse of the quarter eagle from 1840 to 1907.
What earned Pratt some unpleasant remarks was the way the designs were struck on the coins.
Pratt's design features devices in normal relief but recessed below the level of the fields. "This return to an ancient Egyptian concept called incuse-relief was advanced by Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow, a close friend of President Roosevelt. A knowledgeable collector, Bigelow was influenced by the 1837 Bonomi pattern crown of Queen Victoria, actually struck in similar incuse-relief style for her 1887 Golden Jubilee for antiquarian J. Rochelle Thomas," according to the Comprehensive Catalog & Encyclopedia of United States Coins , from the publishers of Coin World .
The $2.50 quarter eagle and $5 half eagle designs were strongly criticized, with some suggesting that the "incused" portions would "permit enough germs to accumulate to prove a health hazard." The reference to the health concern came from Samuel H. Chapman, a Philadelphia coin dealer, whose allegations included the charge that the incuse areas would be "a great receptacle for dirt and conveyor of disease, and the coin will be the most unhygienic ever issued." In fact, the new coins were a success and were issued until 1929 without causing any health problems.
Despite the complaints, Pratt's designs for the quarter eagle and half eagle remain popular in the 21st century.
Date of authorization: Jan. 18, 1837
Dates of issue: 1908-1929
Designer: Bela Lyon Pratt
Diameter: 17.78 mm/0.70 inch
Weight: 4.18 grams/0.13 ounce
Metallic content:9 0% gold, 10% copper
Weight of pure silver: 3.76 grams/0.12 ounce
Mint mark: Reverse lower left
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