The Indian Head Eagle is a piece of American history that has proven the test of time. After successfully landing the highly esteemed, but ailing sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign the same aspect of the US coinage in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt was swift in asking the artist to make models for several different denominations of gold coins.In 1905 the artist agreed and thus began a fantastic tale of presidential coin design.
By 1907, Saint-Gaudens had painstakingly designed obverse and revers of each coin as a harmonious unit. He originally resurrected the Liberty Head Eagle ($10) design for the one cent piece, but Roosevelt was enamored with it and asked if it might be used on the $10 piece, with the request that “something uniquely American” can be added to it, the Indian headdress.
Like the Saint-Guaudens Double Eagle, the indian Head Eagle had problems with its high relief design; the appearance of a “film”, and extra tag of metal beyond the ridge, was especially troubling and had to be redesigned into a rim. The Indian Head Eagle also caused a uproar from the public when it was explained that, due to Teddy Roosevelt’s disdain for the phrase “In God We Trust” appearing on money, the words had been removed from the coin. The U.S congress reacted to this ultimately passing a bill requiring the phrase to be on all United States currency. Five hundred of the coins were struck without the phrase “In God We Trust”, but all but 50 of those coins were melted down, an extremely rare find today.
Finally the redesigned coin went into circulation in 1908, it was minted each year from 1908-1916. Then they were struck again in 1920 at the San Francisco mint and not again until 1926 at the Philadelphia mint. The final minting of these coins were from 1930-1933 agin from the Philadelphia mint, then in 1933 all gold coins were no longer legally minted due to Franklin Roosevelt’s executive order 6102, also recognized as the Gold Confiscation Act.