Q. David Bowers (derived from the PCGS Coin Guide): Indian Head half eagles, designed by sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt, were minted from 1908 through 1929, the same span as the quarter eagles of like design. The $5 pieces, like their $2.50 counterparts, have the designs incuse, except for the mintmarks on certain issues. The two rarities in the Indian series are the 1909-O and 1929, with the latter being particularly elusive. Although 662,000 1929 half eagles were struck, fewer than 200 are believed to exist today. Most of the pieces were stored by the Treasury Department after mintage, were never released into circulation, and when gold coins were discontinued in 1933 they went to the melting pot.
Among Indian Head half eagles, with the exception of 1909-D, and to a lesser extent 1908, most varieties are quite rare in Uncirculated grade, and are very rare in MS-64 or better preservation.