Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice
IMPORTANT: In-person floor bidding is temporarily suspended and our offices are closed, except for scheduled appointments. See details including all options for bidding remotely.


    1909 Indian Half Eagle, PR66
    Only 78 Pieces Distributed
    Rarely Seen Finer

    1909 $5 PR66 NGC. CAC. JD-1, R.5. The dark sandblast finish used on gold proof coins in 1908 proved unpopular with collectors, who much preferred the brilliant proofs of earlier years. Unfortunately, the innovative new designs by Bela Lyon Pratt (quarter eagle and half eagle) and Augustus Saint-Gaudens (eagle and double eagle) featured incuse design elements or curving, basined fields that made extensive polishing of the dies impossible. Since a return to the popular brilliant finish was not possible, the Philadelphia Mint tried the next best alternative, the satin or "Roman" finish used on proofs in 1909 and 1910. The "secret ingredient" in striking the satin proofs seems to have been simply omitting the sandblast step in the production process. The coins were struck on the hydraulic medal press, with high pressure settings to bring up the design, but no special treatment was applied after that. This resulted in sharply detailed, high-quality coins, with lighter colored, textured orange-peel surfaces and a semiprooflike sheen. The Philadelphia Mint produced an optimistic total of 230 proof Indian half eagles in 1909, but collector demand
    remained low and only 78 examples were distributed.

    Walter Breen popularized the "Roman Gold" nomenclature used to describe the 1909-1910 proofs, noting
    they had been designated as such since the 1940s, but acknowledging, "I have been unable to find the actual source of the term." We recently encountered a much earlier occurrence of the term in lot 713 of Public Auction Sale XLVII (Ben Green, 4/1909), where Green used the phrase "Old Roman yellow gold" to describe the
    sandblast proofs in a 1908 gold proof set. It seems the "Roman Gold" terminology was originally used to describe the color of the sandblast proofs of this era, rather than the satin proofs of 1909 and 1910. Accordingly, we suggest the satin finish terminology is more correct for these proofs going forward.

    The present coin exhibits razor-sharp definition on all design elements except the third claw in the necklace, which is softly rendered on most, if not all, examples seen. The honey-gold surfaces are virtually flawless, with the pleasing satiny sheen that has become so popular with present-day collectors. Probably no more than 50-60 examples of this iconic issue have survived in all grades, and the 1909 is rarely seen in PR66 condition. Census: 5 in 66, 14 finer. CAC: 6 in 66, 1 finer (11/19).
    From The Kodiak Collection. (Registry values: N7079)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 25ZS, PCGS# 8540)

    Weight: 8.36 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The Kodiak Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 303

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 18 days left to consign to the 2020 August 5 - 7 ANA Worlds' Fair of Money World Coins Signature Auction - Pittsburgh!

    Learn about consigning with us

    I have now had four successful auctions with Heritage and plan on at least several more with your firm.
    [ Entire Letter » ]
    Lowell J. DeMers, CPA,
    Los Angeles, CA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search