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SERIES: Indian Head $5 1908-1929
LEVEL: Year, MintMark, & Major Variety

1909-O $5 (Regular Strike)

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PCGS MS66

PCGS MS65

PCGS MS64+
PCGS #:
8515
Diameter:
21.60 millimeters
Designer:
Bela Lyon Pratt
Weight:
8.24 grams
Edge:
Reeded
Mintage:
34,200
Metal Content:
90% Gold, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$690,000 • PCGS MS66 • 1-5-2011 • Heritage
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12
2,750
15
3,100
20
3,750
1
25
4,250
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30
4,750
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45+
9,700
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50+
13,000
53+
16,500
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100,000
64+
185,000
1
65+
450,000
Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Estimate 
Numismatic
Rarity 
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 1,416 R-4.8 2 / 24 2 / 24
60 or Better 183 R-7.1 1 / 24 1 / 24
65 or Better 3 R-9.8 4 / 24 TIE 4 / 24 TIE
Condition Census (Explain) Show more rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS66 PCGS grade

J.C. Mitchelson Collection, 6/1909 - John H. Clapp Collection - Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection - Bowers & Ruddy 10/1982:623, $30,800 - David Hall & Gordon Wrubel - Paramount “Auction ‘83” 7/1983:404, $46,750 - David Akers “Auction ‘89” 7/1989:1405, $71,500 - Dr. Thaine Price Collection - David Akers 5/1998:21, $374,000 - Jim O'Neal Collection - Heritage 1/2011:5138, $690,000 - Heritage 1/2014:5468, $646,250

2 MS65+ estimated grade  

Smithsonian Institution


3 MS65 PCGS grade
3 MS65 PCGS grade  

Bowers & Ruddy 2/1978:1315 - RARCOA "Auction '79" 7/1979:1279 - Robert Kruthoffer - Paramount 9/1981:6 - Dr. Steven Duckor - Jay Parrino - David Akers "Auction '90" 7/1990:1803 - David Hall Rare Coins - private collection

5 MS64+ PCGS grade

Bob R. Simpson Collection

Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS66 PCGS grade

J.C. Mitchelson Collection, 6/1909 - John H. Clapp Collection - Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection - Bowers & Ruddy 10/1982:623, $30,800 - David Hall & Gordon Wrubel - Paramount “Auction ‘83” 7/1983:404, $46,750 - David Akers “Auction ‘89” 7/1989:1405, $71,500 - Dr. Thaine Price Collection - David Akers 5/1998:21, $374,000 - Jim O'Neal Collection - Heritage 1/2011:5138, $690,000 - Heritage 1/2014:5468, $646,250

2 MS65+ estimated grade  

Smithsonian Institution


3 MS65 PCGS grade
3 MS65 PCGS grade  

Bowers & Ruddy 2/1978:1315 - RARCOA "Auction '79" 7/1979:1279 - Robert Kruthoffer - Paramount 9/1981:6 - Dr. Steven Duckor - Jay Parrino - David Akers "Auction '90" 7/1990:1803 - David Hall Rare Coins - private collection

5 MS64+ PCGS grade

Bob R. Simpson Collection

6 MS64 PCGS grade

Deer Grove Collection

6 MS64 PCGS grade  
6 MS64 PCGS grade  
6 MS64 PCGS grade  
6 MS64 PCGS grade  
David Akers (1975/88): In terms of overall rarity, this is the premier issue of the series although it is just marginally more rare than the 1911-D. (The 1911-D is more rare in MS-64 or better condition, however.) Even in MS-60 to 63 condition, the 1909-O is seldom available and above that level, there are probably fewer than 10 specimens in all. Two specimens stand out above all the rest, the Lilly coin impounded in the Smithsonian Institution and the Eliasberg specimen, now in a prominent Texas collection. Both are MS-65+ coins, the Lilly coin perhaps even a bit better than that. The Kruthoffer coin, now owned by Dr. Steven Duckor, and a similar quality example in the Dr. Thaine Price Collection are high end MS-64 pieces and I have seen two or three others of similar quality. This is one of the major rarities of 20th-century gold, especially in gem or near gem condition.

The 1909-O is usually quite well struck but the mintmark (double punched to the left on most, but not all specimens I have seen) is normally weak. There are a few specimens, however, where the mintmark is very sharp and well defined (cf. the Lilly specimen). The typical 1909-O is frosty, not especially lustrous, and light to medium greenish gold in color. Some specimens also have a light rose or orange hue.

David Hall: There is one Superb Gem, the incredible Clapp-Eliasberg specimen. Gordon Wrubel and I bought this coin in the October, 1982 Eliasberg auction for $30,800. We sold it right away for a small profit. David Akers has handled this coin several times since and the price is, shall we say, somewhat higher than what Gordon and I paid in 1982!!!!!

 


Doug Winter: The 1909-O half eagle is the final gold coin produced at the New Orleans mint. It is the only Indian Head half eagle to be struck at this mint. It is not an especially scarce coin in circulated grades but it is exceedingly popular due to its status as a one-year type. In recent years, the level of demand for this coin has soared and it now ranks as one of the most popular New Orleans issues of any denomination.

Examples in the VF and EF grades are readily available. Attractive AU coins are fairly scarce and most graded as such by NGC and PCGS are low end pieces with poor eye appeal. The 1909-O is very scarce in properly graded Uncirculated with most survivors in the MS60 to MS62 range. This date is rare in MS63 and very rare in MS64. There are probably no more than three to five Gems known.

STRIKE: By the standards of this series, the 1909-O half eagle shows an average quality strike. Most examples have some weakness on the obverse and this tends to be more on the lower feathers than on the higher ones. The reverse is better struck, although many pieces have some weakness on the feathers, especially on the eagle’s right leg. The mintmark is often very weak and on some lower grade pieces it can be hard to see without magnification.

SURFACES: The vast majority of 1909-O half eagle have heavily abraded surfaces. Most pieces not only show marks from circulation but have scratches or signs of mishandling. Many circulated coins have been cleaned it is hard to find a nice Extremely Fine or About Uncirculated piece with original surfaces. This was an issue that appears to have gone directly into circulation and not many were saved. This is somewhat surprising as one would expect that a decent number would have saved as souvenirs.

LUSTER: The typical 1909-O half eagle has enough wear that its luster has been impaired. On higher grade pieces, the luster can be very good with a thick, frosty texture. This is an extremely difficult issue to find with good luster.

COLORATION: Most circulated 1909-O half eagles have been cleaned and the resultant coloration is an unnatural light orange-gold hue. Uncleaned circulated examples tend to have a dirty greenish-gold color and are often not very attractive. On the few original, uncleaned Mint State pieces that exist, the coloration is excellent with a blend of orange-gold, greenish and rose-gold hues.

EYE APPEAL: The typical 1909-O half eagle has poor eye appeal. This is due to the fact that most have been cleaned and otherwise poorly handled. The incuse design of this series tends not to wear as evenly as the Liberty head design and this contributes to the inferior eye appeal on the typical well-worn survivor. Any original 1909-O half eagle grading AU55 or better is very scarce and is always in demand by collectors.

DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are no significant die characteristics seen on the obverse or reverse.

MAJOR VARIETIES: There are two major varieties known:

Variety One: The mintmark is weakly impressed and it shows doubling on its left side.

Variety Two: The mintmark is more sharply punched and it shows no signs of doubling. This is the scarcer of the two varieties.