James M. writes: “How do you determine a grade on a 1910 $5.00 gold piece?” On the obverse is an indian head with all the features of the face and even the feathers in the head dress. The reverse has a standing eagle that I can see its wing feathers, and the eagle is standing on a tree(?) with striations in the bark. Also, can you tell me the approx. value of this coin? My research has determined a value between $350-$450. Any professional appraisal would be appreciated. Thanks, Jim
The Indian $5 and $2.50 are unique to American coinage in that in design, instead of being in relief, is actually inset into the flan or incuse. This presents a different grading challenge in that even lower grade pieces (vf or so) usually show most of the complete design. To be considered uncirculated, the indian’s cheek bone, and the decorative headband (below BE) must have no trace of wear or rub. On the reverse the eagle’s feathers on the shoulder (direct center of the coin) must be complete with no wear or rub.
If you are not sensitized to these differences you may not be able to grade the coin properly. My own experience has shown that novices often rationalize that their coins are uncirculated even with no luster or with much of the design detail missing.
It seems that your opinion is that the coin is MS60 or so based on your estimate of price. In actuality, superb uncirculated pieces (MS65 or higher) will bring many multiples of your estimate with average circulated coins bringing between $290-$325.