The Indian Gold Eagle was the second coin designed by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in his commission to beautify American gold coinage. Sadly, it was also the last due to his untimely death on August 3, 1907.
Saint-Gaudens was born in Ireland, but his family moved to America before his first birthday. His work earned him a place high in the ranks of artists in the “American Renaissance,” a period of rising national pride and establishment of a unique American identity. The Gold Eagle is an icon of that era, but it took a nudge from another iconic figure – President Theodore Roosevelt.
Saint-Gaudens’ original design for the obverse depicted a more traditional Liberty adorned with a laurel wreath, modeled after that which he designed for the Sherman Monument in New York City’s Central Park. On a typically compelling suggestion from Roosevelt, the laurel wreath was replaced by a ceremonial Native American bonnet. Above Liberty’s head are 13 stars and below is the date.
On the reverse is a proud eagle in profile, its breast thrust forward and its head held high, looking straight ahead. The eagle is standing on a quiver of arrows bound with an olive branch. The original design also omitted the motto “In God We Trust” at the suggestion of President Roosevelt, who felt that using God’s name on money was profane.
Initial public reaction to the new eagle was negative, but sentiment quickly changed with recognition of the coin’s unparalleled beauty and deeply symbolic ties to our national roots. By Act of Congress in 1908, the motto became mandatory on all coinage and was added to the left of the Eagle on future mintages.
The Indian Gold Eagle contains 0.48375 ounces of pure gold alloyed with 10% copper, providing 100% backing for its $10 face value.
Poignant symbolism and masterful craftsmanship have placed the Indian Gold Eagle among the most desired and best performing rare gold coin investments.
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