The Indian quarter eagle is, in the broader history of U.S. coinage, remarkable for its prominent depiction of a Native American. The obverse of sculptor Bela Pratt's design for this coin portrays a male member of this civilization wearing a headdress that alone takes up much of the coin. Had circumstances turned out differently during the coin's development, this obverse could have ended up showing something very different: a forward-striding female Liberty. This was what Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a prestigious sculptor, had made the focal point of his design for the double eagle that entered production in 1907.
That same year, Saint-Gaudens died, leaving him unavailable to assist with the design of a new quarter eagle. The U.S. Mint started seriously developing this coin only after finally overcoming the difficulties of their work on the double eagle. Originally, the Mint intended to produce a scaled-down form of the double eagle's look for the smaller quarter eagle. However, there were legends which the Mint was legally required to put on that piece, and ensuring the inclusion of all of them appeared challenging. One of these legends was "E Pluribus Unum." With the double eagle, this was sited at the edge, but adhering to this placing on the smaller coin escaped practicality. Still, a previous departure from tradition suggested a solution...
Ruling the United States during this time was Theodore Roosevelt, one of the most well-regarded Presidents in the country's history. Roosevelt had, come May 1907, decided that separate designs would be used for the eagle and double eagle pieces. Previously, these two types of coin had shared the same design; therefore, Roosevelt could have been perceived as helping set a new precedent. Whether or not you would have agreed with such an assessment at the time, the previously mentioned problem of the quarter eagle was indeed solved by switching to a revamped design. A particularly significant shift was from raised to recessed details in the design.
This key change in production strategy was thought beneficial for a number of reasons. These included that the pieces could evenly stack, while each coin's flat plane could be more greatly preserved. Such benefits were intended for workers in commerce and banking, but the artistic novelty of the incused design was also far from overlooked. MS65 is the least high among the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale's Gem grades. However, Indian quarter eagles of various dates can be difficult to find in Gem condition. Thus, if starting a collection of Gem-quality Indian quarter eagles is a priority of yours, your searches for such coins could frustrate you less if you began by focusing on common date discs of the series.
We wish you luck in putting together a complete collection of MS65-grade Indian quarter eagles. However, even if you fall short of reaching such completion, just one coin from the series can add resilience to your effective wealth. The 0.12094-troy-ounce gold in each disc can resist shakes in its value better than legal tender coins with multiple dollars in their face values.
Features of the Common Date $2.50 Indian Gold Quarter Eagle MS65:
Eagle depicted in a pose seemingly espousing pride
Gorgeously feathery detail on the eagle's body
Lettering spelling out different legends