Half Eagles The half eagle was the first gold coin actually struck for the United States. The five-dollar piece was authorized to be coined by the Act of April 2, 1792. This type of Indian Head (1908-1929) conforms to the quarter eagle of the same date.
Noted numismatic scholar and art critic Cornelius Vermeule writes, "Bela Lyon Pratt of Boston presented a novel coin.... an Indian brave in war bonnet adorns the obverse, and [a] Ptolemaic eagle with wings closed walks along on the reverse...The innovations [on this coin were] of technique as much as design. Instead of being modeled in relief within a protecting rim, the Indian, the eagle, and the lettering were sunken in incuse or engraved in the uniformly flat plane of the coin .... the [coin shows] more imagination and daring of design than almost any other issue in American history."