The $10 Dollar Indian Coin
Frozen in time, she gazes upon an unknown horizon. Her mouth rests slightly agape, as though she is about to utter something important—perhaps a warning, perhaps a prophecy of what is to come. Adorning her head is a grand, Native American headdress with her name inscribed across its base. To symbolize her humble beginnings, thirteen stars dance above her head. She stands for freedom along with her neighbor, the majestic bald eagle as he, too, faces a horizon—bold and ready for whatever lies ahead.
Hungry for a fresh, new American coin design, President Theodore Roosevelt looked to the artistry of renowned American sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the same sculptor who designed the $20 coin bearing his name. One of the most beautiful coins ever minted in the United States, the $10 Indian Head offers its possessor the delight of aesthetics as well as the mystery of countless stories hidden within its golden mold.
Born during the Progressive Era, the golden woman stepped proudly along the American time line from 1907 to 1933. She held her head high as the United States declared war on the bully, Germany and when the stock market crashed in late 1929 setting in motion the decade-long Great depression. The strength of the United States, reflected in the countenance of Lady Liberty and the noble eagle’s stance, would not be torn down in the face of turmoil.
In 1933, the golden woman’s era came to an abrupt end when President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the ownership of monetary gold illegal. As a result, thousands upon thousands of $10 Indian Heads were recalled and melted down, leaving only 87,218 stalwart survivors (PCGS+NGC, 07/25/2012) out of an original mintage of nearly 15 million. Today, the dwindling number of available $10 Indians makes up less than 100 complete sets. Liberty’s extreme scarcity makes her a rare gem, and her value is more than that of gold alone.
Witnessing some of the most devastating circumstances this nation has ever lived through, the golden woman is a survivor. Though weathered by her adventures during those turbulent years and reduced in number by the massive gold recall, Lady Liberty’s face still shines, and her lips, instead of a warning, speak hope for the future.