The Indian $10 gold eagle, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, is one of the most beautiful coins ever produced by the United States. The obverse carries an image of Miss Liberty donning a feathery Native American headdress, while the reverse depicts an American eagle standing defiantly upon a band of arrows entwined in olive leaves.
When the design was first released on the coin in 1907, it was left without the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST,” as President Theodore Roosevelt believed declaring the phrase on money was sacrilegious. However, the public revolted on the omission of “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and in 1908 the motto was added on the reverse. This modification effectively creates two subtypes — the No Motto version from 1907 and 1908 and the With Motto iteration produced from 1908 through the end of the series in 1933.
The Denver Mint struck 836,500 examples with the motto in 1908, and the coins saw extensive circulation in the West, where gold was preferred over paper money. Thus relatively few $10 Indians were saved in uncirculated condition in large quantities. But a few survive with nearly flawless surfaces, including the piece profiled here. Graded MS-68 by Professional Coin Grading Service, this 1908 With Motto Indian eagle once belonged in the cabinets of great collectors John Clapp and Louis Eliasberg. When the coin crossed the Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction block in March 2020, it fetched an incredible $204,000.