I have long been a fan of the Indian eagle ten-dollar gold series of 1907-1933. Designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, creator of the famous double eagle that bears his name, in my mind's eye the artist's design for the Indian eagle is even more beautiful than that of his renowned twenty-dollar gold piece.
My appreciation for the rarity of many Indian eagle issues in the finer Mint State grades reached a new level back in 2008 when I was called upon to prepare the second edition of David W. Akers' highly esteemed book A Handbook of 20th Century United States Gold Coins: 1907-1933. While compiling population data, auction records and other information with the goal of ascertaining both the overall and high grade rarity of the issues in this series, I quickly learned that most mintmarked Indian eagles are scarce to very scarce even in lower Mint State grades. What's more, the same issues proved to be rare, if not extremely rare, in grades at or near the Gem Mint State level of preservation. The 1910-S is in this category, and this despite a fairly generous mintage of 811,000 pieces. Unlike many issues in the contemporary Saint-Gaudens double eagle series, Indian eagles as a group were not widely saved as part of bank reserves, either within the United States or abroad in Latin America, Europe and other regions. On the contrary, most Indian eagle issues saw active commercial use, especially the earlier dates from the Denver and San Francisco mints, thus explaining their elusiveness in Mint State. In the second edition of the aforementioned Akers' gold coin handbook I rank the 1910-S 16th in overall Mint State rarity out of the 32 Indian eagle issues, and third (!) in high grade (MS-65 or finer) rarity. And it is the latter ranking, in particular, that is of the utmost importance in ascertaining the significance of the 1910-S Indian eagle in PCGS MS-64 that we are offering as a highlight in our upcoming June 2012 Baltimore Auction.
An impressively lustrous near-Gem with the overall appearance of a coin that is strictly top notch for the grade, this piece sports bold medium gold surfaces with splashes of orange and rose iridescence that add immeasurably to the outstanding eye appeal. Both sides are sharply struck, and the coin is undeniably choice for the assigned grade. Current PCGS population data states that 27 examples of this issue have been certified as MS-64, although I suspect that a few of those "coins" are actually resubmissions of one or more examples in a quest for that elusive MS-65 designation. The quest is truly a challenging one, for PCGS has certified only three 1910-S eagles in MS-65 and MS-66 combined, the latter grade representing the top-of-the-pop for the issue. With Gem 1910-S eagles rarely trading in the market, the lovely MS-64 that we are offering in our June Baltimore Auction is sure to see elicit strong bids from discerning 20th century gold collectors. The coin is a very scarce and appealing survivor of one of the most conditionally challenging issues in Saint-Gaudens' beautiful Indian eagle series of the early 20th century.