Best Buy: The $5 Indian, A Solid Value Coin
This offer of MS64 $10 Indians is sold out.
In the end, we had to tell more than one of you they were no longer available. We understand the frustration of seeing a great deal and then it not being available – but, if there were an unlimited supply, it wouldn’t be a great offer. So, if you have an interest in this month’s offer, call 800-831-0007
or email me today
to purchase your next addition to your portfolio.
For August (my birth month), we have a solid value coin - the MS63 $5 Indian. As you can see, the coin looks completely different from the larger $10 Indian we offered last month. It is vastly rarer due to the size and design. This month, we are offering these MS63 coins in various dates at prices you can’t pass up.
For many reasons, we have always admired America’s Indian Head gold coinage. From a visual standpoint, the coins are among the most attractive produced by the United States. The innovative designs are stunning and evocative of the Wild West. In addition, the story of the coins’ creation is nothing short of fascinating.
The Indian gold series were envisioned by Theodore Roosevelt and brought to reality by famed sculptors. Not only are they artistically and historically significant, the coins are also prized numismatic items. Very few specimens have survived, let alone in Uncirculated condition.
What makes these coins especially desirable today is their decade-low pricing. Last month, we showcased the MS64 $10 Indian, which is trading for less than half of its 10-year high. When the dust settled, you grabbed every MS64 $10 Indian we could locate. This cemented our belief the coins remain immensely popular and legitimately difficult to find. After performing further research, we see the same qualities in the $5 Indian.
Like its $10 Indian cousin, the $5 Indian boasts a handsome motif and an intriguing background. What we also discovered is the $5 Indian is the rarest 20th century gold coin in Uncirculated condition. We attribute this to the coin’s short production run and its damage-prone design. Adding insult to injury, countless quantities were later melted during times of economic duress. The net result is the $5 Indians are noticeably rarer than their $2.5 and $10 Indian counterparts.
Also, like the $10 Indian, the $5 Indian is trading for the lowest levels witnessed in ten years. The powerful combination of beauty, history, rarity and value will likely result in another sellout. If last month’s frenzy is any indicator, we expect this offering to sell out quickly once again.
History – Design – Rarity
The $5 Indian represented two major departures from United States Mint policy. The first was the decision to employ an outside artist to design the coin. Since the U.S. Mint’s formation in 1792, this function was always handled by in-house staff. While these engravers produced many beautiful designs in the 18th and early 19th centuries, America’s coinage became staid and tired by the early 20th century. This was not due to a lack of talent. As evidenced by the exquisite prototypes struck in the 1870s and 1880s, the staff engravers possessed tremendous ability. However, whether it was office politics or a lack of ambition, few of these proposed motifs came to fruition.
Secondly, the Mint had a tendency towards repetition in its coinage designs. Not only were formats repeated year after year, but the same design was often copied across multiple denominations. From the 1830s through the 1890s, the half dime, dime, twenty cent piece, quarter dollar, half dollar and dollar all shared the exact same visual theme. Similarly, during roughly the same time, the quarter eagle, half eagle and eagle featured a common design. Some coins went over 50 years without any change whatsoever—but this monotony did not go unnoticed.
Around 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt felt America’s coinage was in dire need of a refresh. He didn’t believe existing Mint employees should be tasked with the job. Instead, Roosevelt commissioned an outside artist, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, to revamp the gold denominations. The controversial move incensed the Mint staff, who immediately criticized Saint-Gaudens’ work as unfeasible and impossible to execute. Indeed, the new proposed designs were formed in high relief, thus making production an extreme challenge. Roosevelt anticipated the disapproval, but ordered the U.S. Mint director to adopt Saint-Gaudens’ plans.
Tragically, Saint-Gaudens would pass away in 1907 before his coinage redesign project was completed. He left models for the $10 and $20 gold pieces, but he had not yet tackled the $2.5 and $5 coins before his death. The original plan was to use the $20 design for the smaller denominations, but this idea was later abandoned for both artistic and practical reasons. Roosevelt was excited to add more variety to America’s gold coinage. The U.S. Mint staff was looking forward to easier designs to strike.
After Saint-Gaudens’ death, Bela Lyon Pratt became the front-runner to redesign the smaller gold denominations. Pratt was a student of Saint-Gaudens and, like his teacher, was extremely creative in his work. In fact, Pratt had been hired to finish a project Saint-Gaudens failed to complete at the Boston Public Library. Furthermore, two close friends of Roosevelt’s were familiar with Pratt’s sculptures; they enthusiastically endorsed the artist to the president. By January 1908, Pratt was already hard at work on the $2.5 and $5 Indian designs.
Pratt stayed with the Indian and eagle theme Saint-Gaudens had used for the $10 eagle, knowing President Roosevelt liked this motif. When Pratt submitted plaster molds, Roosevelt approved them quickly and instructed the Mint to create dies based on this design immediately. The models didn’t arrive at the Philadelphia Mint until mid-summer, but Roosevelt wanted the new coins in production by fall. Unlike the Saint-Gaudens $10 and $20 gold pieces, which underwent numerous revisions, the Mint had no time to adjust Pratt’s $5 Indian design. Some would argue the design process was ‘railroaded’ to completion.
Pratt’s motif was a first for United States coinage because it featured an incused design. Much like intaglio printing, the design details were sunken into the coin’s surface. This unique format made the coin flat and easy to stack, but ultimately made the coin susceptible to damage too. On most coins, the raised rim and design details protect the surfaces; only the highest points are exposed to friction. Since the $5 Indian coin had a flat surface, no area was shielded against wear and abrasions. The coins wore down quickly and lost their ‘frost’ and luster almost immediately.
$5 Indian production started strong, but mintages began to dwindle during World War I. The price of gold spiked during this period of unrest; the bullion content of a $5 gold coin exceeded its face value. The Mint did not want to strike coins that would be immediately melted, so production stopped in 1916. A small quantity of coins was made in 1929 when conditions appeared to normalize, but then, the country found itself in the Great Depression. Finally, in 1933, Franklin Roosevelt discontinued America’s circulating gold coinage, and, ordered Americans to turn in any gold coins they owned. Thanks to this order, millions of $5 Indians were destroyed.
Today, the typical surviving $5 Indian is seen in well-circulated condition. The coin’s flat, vulnerable design allowed it to wear down quickly in day-to-day commerce. Even coins stored in bank vaults typically have extensive abrasions and weak luster; they already looked ‘used’ without entering circulation! In other words, not only are $5 Indians difficult to find altogether, but they are almost never seen in higher grades. The combination of melting and abuse in circulation is what makes the $5 Indian the rarest 20th century gold coin in Uncirculated condition.
Amazingly, the MS63 $5 Indian is trading for an astounding 60%+ discount to its 10-year highs.
- NGC’s price guide began tracking the coin in mid-2005, when it was fetching prices in the low $2,000s.
- Values steadily climbed for the next nine months and eventually peaked at over $4,200 in May 2006.
- While prices would correct later that year, the coin bottomed out at $2,400 before rebounding to the $3,000-$3,400 range for much of 2007.
- The MS63 $5 Indian then settled into a range of $2,100-$2,500 for much of 2008 and 2009, then settled into the high teens in 2010.
- Prices jumped once again to $2,500 in late 2011, only to retreat to the high teens again towards the beginning of 2012.
- Since then, it has mostly traded in the $1,500-$2,000 range.
At this moment, the coin is available below $1,500 for the first time in a decade.
We are pleased to offer a small group of 1909-D $5 Indians in MS63, also known as Choice Uncirculated. Unlike most $5 Indians, these coins are well-struck, display complete design details, show no signs of wear and still possess original frosty mint luster. We estimate that a miniscule percentage (in the single digits) of all $5 Indians qualify for the MS63 grade.
The graph below is a representation of slightly better date coins which include: 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912 and the 1913. As you can see, the 1913 $5 Indian in MS63 crossed the $5,000 hurdle as far back as 2006. With current prices at $1,625, this is one of the most remarkably undervalued coins on the market today.
10 Year Retail Price Graph for 1913 $5 MS63
- In July of 2006, with gold spot prices around $600 per ounce, this coin traded for $5,130—around 32 times its weight in gold! With gold trading at $1,300 today, 32 times melt would be worth just over $10,000!
- In September of 2009, with gold just over $1,000, this same coin traded for $2,560—still around 10 times its weight in gold! Again, with gold prices at $1,300 today, 10 times melt would be worth just over $3,100.
- With today’s spot price at $1,300, and a retail price of only $1,625—these coins are trading at only 5 times their weight in gold!
The $5 Indian is celebrated for its innovative design, intriguing origins and undeniable rarity. It is the scarcest 20th century gold coin in Uncirculated condition, largely due to its flat design that wore down quickly in everyday use. Its short production run and rampant melting has made it rare in all grades, let alone Mint State levels.
For much of the past decade, the MS63 $5 Indian traded for well in excess of $2,000, and it even peaked at $5,130 in 2006.
At today’s bargain levels below $1,500, we could not be more enthusiastic about this coin. We expect you will share this view. Please contact us before another sellout takes place!
We were at the right place at the right time and able to secure this unique accumulation of 1908-1913 issues in MS63. From speaking with our source, many of these coins were likely together since the 1920s.
Please call for pricing and avaliability.
or email me today
to purchase your coins and take advantage of the lowest prices in years.
*Prices are subject to change based upon product availability and due to market fluctuation.