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Indian Half Eagles drop
By Mark Ferguson

The most common pre-1934 gold coins, often referred to by coin dealers as "generic gold," have been in demand for many months as alternatives to gold coins struck purely for bullion purposes such as the American Eagle gold coins. Strong public demand during past months has reduced inventories of bullion-related coins at coin shops all across America.

Gold $20 double eagles are the most asked for alternative to current bullion coins, but customers have been buying other types of gold coins as well – just to be able to own some gold. Customers are purchasing Indian Head $2.50 quarter eagles, $5 half eagles and $10 eagles at premiums that are higher over their gold content values than the premiums charged for double eagles.

All three Indian Head series were issued for fairly short periods of time, with the quarter eagle series the most popular of the three because it forms the shortest collection and has really only one significant rarity – the comparatively high-priced 1911-D.

The Indian Head $5 half eagle series has two significant rarities that are expensive in all grades – the 1909-O and 1929 coins.

The Indian Head half eagle series features other more expensive issues in Mint State that are too expensive for the budgets of many collectors.

The Indian Head half eagle contains nearly exactly a quarter ounce of gold, so with the price of gold at $900 an ounce, these coins have a bullion value of about $225. But even in Very Fine condition the retail cost of the common dates is about $400 – quite high compared to the double eagle, which contains .9675 ounce of gold and retails for about $1,300 in circulated grades of common issues.

Market premiums for common-date half eagles have fallen slightly – from $25 to $50 each in circulated grades.

Mint State values for common-date examples have adjusted downward as follows: MS-60 went from $650 to $600; MS-62 fell from $1,400 to $1,000; MS-63 is now $2,500, down from $3,500; MS-64 dropped from $6,000 to $4,000; and MS-65 has gone from $25,000 to $20,000 each for the common issues. A few higher grade values have also risen.


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