Best Buy: The $10 Indian, Best Price in a Decade
We’ve always admired the $10 Indian for its aesthetics and history - but at current levels, we especially like it as a superb value play. And here’s why…
In the art and numismatic arenas, the name Augustus Saint-Gaudens is immediately recognized. Hailed as one of the finest Beaux Arts-era sculptors, Saint-Gaudens’ work can be seen in numerous museums, parks and public buildings. If you’ve ever been to Boston Common, New York’s Central Park or Washington’s Union Station, chances are you’ve walked by one of his sculptures.
Within the numismatic world, Saint-Gaudens is widely known for the design featured on 1907-1933 double eagles and gold eagles from 1986 to present.
While the $10 Indian has always been celebrated for its beauty, few people realize it was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. In fact, this motif was his personal favorite and was initially considered for the $20 double eagle.
Near-gem MS64 examples are trading for less than half their 10-year highs and for a small premium over the cost of an MS63. The last time these were available at such an attractive level, gold was under $600!
We have put together a small number of coins (less than 90) in MS64 grade, year dates 1926 and 1932. We are able to offer them to you (delivered) at more than $100 discount to the current NGC price guide.* Call 800-831-0007 to get yours today.
The history of the $10 Indian begins in 1904, when President Theodore Roosevelt decided to revitalize America’s coinage. Indeed, the gold denominations were in desperate need of an overhaul. The quarter eagle, half eagle and eagle hadn’t seen a major design refresh in over sixty years. Rather than use the existing mint engravers, Roosevelt pushed to commission a private artist for the redesigns. Mint Director George E. Roberts agreed with Roosevelt and hired Augustus Saint-Gaudens for the task in 1905.
Roosevelt took personal interest in the project and corresponded directly with Saint-Gaudens. In one of their exchanges, Roosevelt mentioned he inspected some of the Smithsonian Institute’s ancient coins. He felt the most beautiful specimens were struck in high relief—and Saint-Gaudens agreed.
Taking the ancient theme further, Saint-Gaudens proposed expressing the date in Roman numerals rather than standard Arabic numbers. Treasury Secretary Leslie Shaw felt this was unwise and confusing, but Roosevelt sided with Saint-Gaudens and authorized the use of Roman numerals.
In 1907, a unique prototype $20 gold piece was struck using Saint-Gaudens’ proposed design. The coin featured an Indian princess on the obverse, similar to the eventual $10 Indian design.
The flying eagle on the reverse closely resembles the final $20 ‘Saint’ design. The coin was struck in extremely high relief and the date was displayed in roman numerals. Mysteriously, just one piece was made.
Since this unique prototype incorporated all of Roosevelt’s preferences, it has been nicknamed ‘Teddy’s Coin’ within the numismatic community. As a result of its beauty, historical importance and rarity, it is regarded as the most valuable United States coin. It last sold in a 1981 auction for $475,000. But now, it’s valued well in excess of $10,000,000. If offered at auction today, it almost surely would set a new price record for any United States coin.
‘Teddy’s Coin’ was visually stunning, but Mint Director Roberts criticized it heavily. While Roosevelt and Saint-Gaudens were primarily interested in the coin’s appearance, Roberts was concerned with practicalities.
- He felt the high relief format would make the coin hard to stack and count. If the coins were difficult to handle, banks throughout the world would avoid them.
- Striking a coin with such deep design details required multiple impressions from the dies and a tremendous amount of pressure.
- Roberts agreed with Treasury Secretary Shaw the Roman numeral date was confusing and unfitting for an English-speaking country.
Ultimately, Roberts prevailed and Saint-Gaudens began work on a new design. The core design elements of ‘Teddy’s Coin’ found their way into the $10 and $20 gold pieces. The Indian princess motif was eventually chosen for the $10 eagle coin while the reverse design was used for the $20 double eagle. Even in lower relief, both coins were gorgeous and extremely well-liked by the general public. The only complaint was the motto ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ was initially omitted. After some public uproar, this phrase was added to the reverse in 1908.
$10 Indians were struck every year from 1907 through 1916, but productions halted in 1917 as a result of World War I. Gold coins were commanding a premium over melt at the time and the U.S. Mint saw little need to release coins that would vanish from circulation. There was another spurt of production at the San Francisco mint in 1920, but the output was small.
Today, 1920-S $10 Indians are worth anywhere from $25,000 to $1.75 million, depending on condition. The Philadelphia Mint produced coins in 1926 and 1932, but by 1933 the coin was discontinued altogether. Almost every 1933 issue was destroyed before release. As a result, surviving specimens are worth in the hundreds of thousands.
Of all the $10 Indians originally produced, only a small percentage still survive today. With the 1933 federal order to turn in all gold coins, millions of pieces were destroyed. If not for the fact some pieces were exported to Europe and repatriated later, the $10 Indians would be wildly rare.
Unfortunately, most of the $10 Indians recovered from Europe were jostled around in bank bags for decades, resulting in heavily abraded and unattractive surfaces. The vast majority grade of the surviving $10 Indians are well-worn or low-end Uncirculated coins. These become scarce at the MS63 level and quite rare in MS64. We estimate no more than 5% of all $10 Indians qualify for the MS64 grade.
Values and Current Offering
Put bluntly, the MS64 $10 Indian is at the lowest level we’ve seen since 2005.
- NGC’s historical price database shows this coin steadily marched from a low of $1,590 in late 2005, all the way to $3,300 by the summer of 2006.
- Prices corrected to $2,000 several months later, only to zoom back over $2,800 in late 2007.
- This pattern repeated itself in 2008 and 2009.
- After retreating to $2,100 in December 2008 the coin recovered quickly back to $3,000 a year later.
- After trading in the high teens and low $2,000s over the past two years, the coin is suddenly buyable for around $1,400.
This is less than half of its peaks in 2006, 2007 and 2009—all when spot gold was lower.
One more metric demonstrates this coin’s value. Historically, MS64 $10 Indians have carried a $750-$1,000 premium over MS63s. Today, the price difference is only $200-$300. An MS64 is 2-3 times rarer than an MS63, yet is commanding a tiny premium. To further put this into perspective, even a circulated $10 Indian is trading for $800-$900. Simply put, buying an MS64 gives you a tremendous amount of quality and rarity at a small cost.
Our current selection consists of 1926 and 1932 $10 Indians in near-gem MS64 condition. These two dates are the last affordable dates in the series and are known for their exceptional eye appeal. Indeed, these coins have virtually the same luster, strike and overall appearance of MS65s without paying the $3,500-$5,000 price tag for a Gem Uncirculated coin.
The $10 Indian is one of the most beautiful designs to ever grace a United States coin. Inspired by Theodore Roosevelt and superbly executed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the coin possesses both a fascinating backstory and dazzling aesthetics.
After years of trading in the $2,000-$3,300 range, MS64 $10 Indians are suddenly available at levels not seen in nine years. For just a couple hundred more than an MS63—and thousands less than an MS65—the MS64 is fundamentally undervalued. We encourage you to act now before others discover this numismatic bargain!
We believe $10 Indians in certified MS64 are a great opportunity right now.
Please call for pricing and avaliability.
When diversifying your portfolio with graded coins, it is important to choose ones with the best chance for appreciation. These coins cost half the price they commanded just a few years ago. Better date $10 Indians might just be the right coin at the right price for you.
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*Prices are subject to change based upon product availability and due to market fluctuation.