PCGS 8889 - Indian $10, With Motto (1908-1933)
Although the $10 "eagle" was the largest gold coin issued under the Mint Act of 1792, it would be over forty years before most citizens would see this "Flagship" denomination. First minted in 1795, Congress' ill-conceived 15 to 1 silver/gold ratio doomed the coins and their smaller brothers to hoarding and melting from the start. The result was inevitable. Eagle production ended in 1804, quarter eagle mintages remained minute, and only half eagles were made in quantity, primarily for transactions between banks. Finally, in an effort to return gold coins to the channels of commerce, Congress passed the Act of 1834, changing the silver/gold ratio to 16 to 1. Almost overnight, U.S. silver coins were worth more than the equivalent amount in gold coins. The eagle was reintroduced in 1838 after a 34-year hiatus. The eagle issued since 1838 was the Christian Gobrecht designed Liberty Head, featuring a neoclassic head of Liberty adorned with a coronet inscribed LIBERTY. Thirteen stars surround the bust, with the date below. The reverse depicts an eagle holding arrows and an olive branch, encircled by the inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and TEN D. Chief Engraver James Barton Longacre placed the new motto on a scroll over the eagle's head.
Elected President in in 1904, Roosevelt was unhappy with the trite Inaugural medal designed by U.S. Mint engravers Charles E. Barber and George T. Morgan. His interest in numismatic art was awakened when his artistic friends urged the commissioning of a really innovative Inaugural medal, and suggested the great American sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens for the task. The sculptor agreed, but his busy schedule limited him to sketching the basic design on a paper napkin while on the train from Washington. He told Roosevelt that he would entrust all the actual work to his 34 year-old associate, German-born Adolph A. Weinman, better known to collectors today for his "Mercury" Dime and Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Saint Gaudens immediately began work on new coinage designs. He fashioned images of Liberty in both full figure and bust motifs, and eagles in flying and standing positions, the latter derived from the reverse of the Roosevelt medal. Saint-Gaudens’s success with this medal convinced Roosevelt that the artist was the partner he needed to collaborate on a pet project: the redesign of America’s money. Saint-Gaudens signed on, and the plotting began. But the potential for trouble hovered on the horizon: this medal had been struck, not by the United States Mint in Philadelphia, but by Tiffany & Company in New York. If the Mint hadn’t produced Saint-Gaudens’s medal, would it agree to produce any of his coins? Although he preferred the bust of Liberty and the standing eagle for the twenty dollar coin (as they appeared on the unique 1907 $20 pattern), after much correspondence with the President throughout 1906 and early 1907, it was finally decided that this combination would appear on the $10 gold coin.
The bust Designer, Engraver, Charles E. Barber, after Augustus Saint-Gaudens, is almost identical to the Nike head (Victory) that Saint Gaudens designed for Sherman's monument in New York's Central Park. At Roosevelt's insistence, she shed her laurel crown for a handsome, but historically impossible Indian feathered war bonnet. LIBERTY was inscribed on the Indian's headdress, with 13 stars above the head and the date below.
Less than a year after adoption of St. Gaudens design, an outraged and furious Congress (probably goaded by clergy), ordered IN GOD WE TRUST be restored to coinage.
The story of the Motto can be found here: History of 'In God We Trust'
The reverse, Designer, Engraver, Charles E. Barber, after Augustus Saint-Gaudens, reflects an eagle standing on a bundle of arrows, with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM to the right. Encircling the periphery above the eagle is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Below is the denomination TEN DOLLARS.
- Weight: 258 ± 0.25 grains = 16.718 ± 0.016 grams
- Gold: 15.0444 grams or 0.4837 troy oz.
- Diameter: 18/16" or 26.8 mm.
- Composition: 90% gold, not over 5% silver, rest copper.
- Rim: Reeded
Prices realized from past auction lots. (PCGS Holder)
PCGS Price Guide 
- Breen, Walter H., Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U. S. and Colonial Coins, New York: Doubleday, 1987.
- Yeoman, R. S., and Kenneth Bressett (ed.), A Guide Book of United States Coins, 59th Ed., Atlanta, GA: Whitman Publishing, 2005.
- U.S. Mint