Dies for the half eagle were sent to the mints in Denver and San Francisco; both western mints reported difficulties in striking the new pieces. Landis wrote to his counterparts at the other mints, advising them that the planchets, or blanks, needed to be shaved very slightly to strike properly. The new coins proved to be thinner than earlier coins of their denomination, due to the field being raised above the design. This meant that automated sorting machines could not reliably sort them when mixed with earlier coins.
The new gold pieces entered circulation in early November 1908, attracting some negative comment. Philadelphia numismatist Samuel Chapman wrote to Roosevelt in early December to criticize the new coins. The indentations in the new coins would harbor dirt and germs, Chapman argued; the coins could be easily counterfeited by carving a disc of metal. They could not adequately stack, and they were in any event not handsome, with the Indian “emaciated”.
According to numismatic historian Roger Burdette, “Chapman’s letter caused some consternation at the White House”. The President prepared a reply in which he expressed himself strongly to Chapman, but Bigelow persuaded him to substitute a milder letter over Bigelow’s signature, defending the new coins. Bigelow’s letter replied to Chapman’s complaint about the Indian, “The answer to this is that the head was taken from a recent photograph of an Indian whose health was excellent. Perhaps Mr. Chapman has in mind the fatter but less characteristic type of Indian sometimes seen on the reservations.” Chapman wrote again, and had the correspondence published in the numismatic press, but no one at the lame duck Roosevelt White House bothered to reply, according to Burdette, “the new coins were issued and would remain as they were for twenty-five years, or until Congress ordered them changed”. Leach wrote to Bigelow on January 2, 1909, “I was somewhat amused by their savage attack, and should have liked to have been in a position to reply to this unjust criticism. However, I am pleased to say that adverse criticism of the coins is an exception. I feel very well pleased with the result.”
Both the half and quarter eagle were struck each year through 1915. While “hard money” circulated in quantity in the West, in the East banknotes were much more common. A common use of the small gold pieces was as Christmas presents—the pieces would be produced at the various mints late in the year, be purchased from banks in December and return to vaults by late January. The establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913 increased the circulation of banknotes, and the Mint ceased to strike quarter eagles after 1915 and half eagles after 1916. An additional factor was the economic unrest caused by World War I, causing gold prices to rise and coins made of that metal to vanish from circulation. After the war, gold did not return to circulation, and most gold coins struck were double eagles, used for international transactions and backing for gold certificates.
The quarter eagle remained popular as a Christmas gift but did not initially come back into production as the Treasury held stocks of the pieces from the prewar years. This surplus was slow to dissipate, as gift givers preferred the older Liberty Head quarter eagle that had been struck until 1908. With the Liberty Head pieces becoming rarer and acquiring a premium above face value, the quarter eagle was finally struck again in 1925, principally to be given as presents. The 1925 quarter eagle was struck only at Denver, and it was then struck from 1926 to 1929 only at Philadelphia. With the economic collapse which started the Depression, the quarter eagle was not called for in commerce, and the Mint halted production.
The half eagle was not struck again until 1929, at Philadelphia. Coins of that date have a rarity not reflected in the mintage of 668,000 as few were released into commerce. Gold coins not released were melted in the mid-1930s, along with those recalled from banks and private holders, after President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 ended the issuance of gold coins. Roosevelt’s actions put an end to the quarter and half eagle series, which had begun in 1796 and 1795, respectively.
There are only 15 different Indian Head quarter eagles by date and mintmark; the key is the 1911 struck at Denver (1911-D), which the 2012 A Guide Book of United States Coins values at $2,850 even in well-circulated VF (Very Fine, or 20 on the Mint State scale) condition. The half eagle series is longer; 24 pieces by date and mint mark. The final entry, 1929 is the key date for the half eagle series, followed by the 1909-O, struck at the New Orleans Mint in its final year of operation.
Article Source: en.wikipedia.org
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