Most presidents are no doubt delighted to receive the inaugural medal given to them when they are sworn in to service. However, not President Theodore Roosevelt. He made it known he didn’t like the medal’s look. As a result, American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed a new medal, while his associate, Adolph A. Weinman, constructed it. After the new medal achieved critical acclaim, Roosevelt was motivated to redesign the nation’s coins.
Saint-Gaudens was brought back in to work on new coin designs, and the $10 Indian Head Coin became one of only two coins he designed.
The obverse of the $10 Indian Head Coin displays the head of Lady Liberty in a profile position, wearing an Indian war bonnet. On the bonnet headband is the word “LIBERTY”. Encircling Lady Liberty are 13 stars, representing the 13 original colonies. The issue date of the coin sits below the profile.
On the reverse of the coin is a standing eagle, its chest thrust out. It is perched on an olive branch. To the eagle’s right are the words “IN GOD WE TRUST.” Also present is “E PLURIBUS UNUM”, which translates to “Out of many, one.” This Latin phrase refers to the union formed by the separate U.S. states.
When the coin first rolled into circulation in the fall of 1907 it did not contain the words “IN GOD WE TRUST”. President Roosevelt thought it blasphemous to use the words on a coin. But they were added in 1908 after Congress insisted.
One of the most attractive features of the coin is that instead of a reeded or lettered edge, the $10 Indian Head Coin struck from 1907 to 1911 has 46 raised stars at the edge of the coin representing the states of the Union. With the addition of New Mexico and Arizona, two more stars were added in 1912.
Five hundred $10 Indian Head coins were originally struck in 1907 using a wire rim, giving the coin a 3-D look. The Mint then began using regular strikes on the coin.