Best Buy: Rare Date MS64 $5 Indians at Historic Lows
MS64 $5 Indian
From 1907 through 1916, every United States circulating coin underwent a significant design change. After decades of monotony, each denomination was completely overhauled by some of America’s most talented and famous artists. This represented a major break from tradition. For most of the 19th century, American coins were designed by U.S. Mint staff engravers. Furthermore, multiple denominations often shared the same motif. Five different silver coins, for example, were virtually identical in appearance with the only difference being size.
This practice came to a screeching halt when Theodore Roosevelt became president. He felt America’s coinage should be beautiful, majestic and creative in appearance. This is what spurred the hiring of renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to revamp the $10 and $20 gold pieces. Although Saint-Gaudens passed away before he could tackle the rest of the U.S. gold series, Roosevelt remained committed to the project.
Designing the $2.50 Quarter Eagle and $5 Indian Half Eagle
To maintain the spirit of Saint-Gaudens’ work, Roosevelt commissioned one of his students to design the $2.50 Quarter Eagle and $5 Half Eagle. Bela Lyon Pratt, who had been mentored by Saint-Gaudens, began working on the two denominations in January 1908. By springtime of that year, Pratt submitted plaster models of the coins for Roosevelt’s approval. The President was pleased and ordered the U.S. Mint to begin adopting the design for production.
Pratt’s proposed version of the $5 Half Eagle was unlike any previous U.S. coin. The design details were incused, or sunken. This unique and innovative format had never been attempted on a circulating American coin. U.S. Mint officials were worried the coin would be difficult to strike, as it would be thinner than the Liberty Half Eagle design. Merchants were also concerned the coins would not stack properly or go through automatic counters.
There was even more controversy when the coins were released to the general public. Citizens were gravely concerned that dirt, grime and germs could become trapped in the coin’s recesses. Although these fears were unfounded, one prominent numismatist actually complained directly to the President about the issue. He also called the male Indian on the obverse “emaciated” and believed the coins might be easy to counterfeit. Ultimately, however, most Americans were pleased with the new Half Eagle. In fact, their unusual design made them quite popular as gifts.
Rarity of Philadelphia Issues
The majority of $5 Indian Half Eagles were struck from 1908 through 1915. By far, the most available date is the 1909-D issue. Western Americans insisted upon hard money and essentially rejected paper money. This is why the Denver Mint struck so many pieces; it was responding to demand in the region. Easterners, meanwhile, were far more accepting of paper notes resulting in the Philadelphia issues having much lower mintages. For instance, in 1909, the Denver Mint struck 3.4 million coins, while the Philadelphia facility released around 627,000 pieces.
There’s one more important factor when discussing the rarity of $5 Indians - condition. Of the major late 19th and early 20th century gold types, the $5 Indian Half Eagle is actually the rarest in MS64! This is a direct consequence of the coin’s unusual format. Since the coin is flat and lacks a raised rim, it is especially susceptible to nicks and abrasions. Also, as mentioned earlier, the Mint had difficulty producing the $5 Indian with a complete strike. The incused design was very much a double-edged sword; it was highly attractive, but made the coin less durable and a challenge to produce.
This fact is clearly reflected in the NGC Population Census. Of the 89,000 Mint State $5 Indians graded to date, only 8.25% qualified as MS64. The vast majority of Uncirculated coins are MS61 or MS62. It’s also worth noting that just 538 $5 Indians have ever graded MS65. This explains why seemingly “common” $5 Indians become five figure rarities in MS65. Even the generic date (1909-D), which is abundant in lower grades, sells for over $10,000 in Gem Uncirculated.
In our view, the “best value grade” for $5 Indian Half Eagles is MS64. In order for a coin to reach this grade, it must display a complete strike, strong luster, clean surfaces and excellent eye appeal. They are heads and shoulders nicer than the average $5 Indian – but still extremely affordable compared to the price of an MS65. Given that an MS65 sells for 4-8x more than an MS64, the latter has ample room to appreciate.
Not only are $5 Indians an outstanding value relative to the price of an MS65, but they are also selling for a tremendous discount relative to their 15-year peak. On multiple occasions over the past decade, MS64 $5 Indians surged into the $4,500-$6,500 range. In 2006, during a severe shortage, they briefly reached the $7,000 mark. Today, remarkably, you can purchase a $5 Indian in the low $2,000s. $5 Indian Half Eagles are trading at the lowest levels we’ve seen in 15 years!
If you’re going to buy MS64 $5 Indians, there are eight dates that represent exceptional value. They are all 3-8x rarer than the common 1909-D, yet sell for just a 10-15% premium:
You may notice that seven of these eight rarer dates are Philadelphia issues. This is not a coincidence. As previously mentioned, there was a higher demand for gold coins in the west compared to the east. The 1908-D is a scarcer issue only because the $5 Indian was not production-ready until mid-1908. As a result, the Denver Mint struck far fewer coins in 1908 compared to 1909.
All eight of these issues are currently selling for well below their historic peaks – and the cost of an MS65. The discount is nothing short of staggering; MS64 Indians are trading at extremely compelling prices:
Today, we can offer you a very limited quantity of these rare-date MS64 $5 Indians at a significant discount to their current and peak NGC Price Guide values. We located a superbly-priced group and pounced on the opportunity. In addition to being extremely favorably priced, this high-quality batch contains a wide assortment of dates.
Subject to availability, the following options are available for $5 Indians:
- 1-3 coins: Please call for pricing and availability*
- 4-7 coins: Please call for pricing and availability* - guaranteed different dates for each coin
- We also have an extremely limited number of complete 8-coin date sets. You will receive a 1908, 1908-D, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1915 at: Please call for pricing and availability* These 8-coin sets will sell quickly, so please call us at 800-831-0007 immediately to reserve your set.
Of all the major U.S. gold design types, the MS64 $5 Indian stands out as a remarkable opportunity. This coin is selling at the lowest prices we’ve seen in 10-15 years. While any MS64 $5 Indian is an outstanding buy at today’s discounted levels, these eight better dates represent one of the best options. They’re 3-6x rarer than the most common date, sell for a miniscule date premium over the generic price, and are virtually impossible to find in higher grades. This is the exact recipe we look for in a Spotlight coin offer! We think you’ll agree – so, expect these coins to vanish quite quickly.
Call us at 800-831-0007 or send us an email to add a rare $5 Indian to your investment portfolio today!
*Prices are subject to change based on product availability and market fluctuation. Free shipping, handling and insurance included. Prices reflected are for cash, check, or wire transfer only. Offer expires April 7, 2017.