The $5 Indian gold coin is one of two coins designed by sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt (the other being the $2.50 Indian gold coin.) As with the $20 Saint-Gaudens gold piece, President Theodore Roosevelt played an important role in revamping this smaller gold coin. While looking for a sculptor to design these coins, Roosevelt's good friend, Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow, recommended Pratt who had once been a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Although the $5 Indian Head is smaller and less spectacular than the coins of his mentor, the Pratt coins are, in a sense, more innovative and daring.
Design of the $5 Indian Gold Coin - The obverse (front) pictures an Indian Chief, the first true American Indian ever to appear on United States coinage. Previously, Caucasian models dressed in American Indian attire were used. The chief on the Indian Head is wearing a full-feathered headdress with the word 'Liberty' inscribed above the headband. A border of 13 stars and the minting date encircle him. The reverse (back) features a proud bald eagle standing among olive branches, surrounded by the words 'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.' The motto 'IN GOD WE TRUST' and the denomination also appear on the reverse.
$5 Indian Coin Minting Information - What sets the $5 and $2.50 Indian Head gold coins apart from other United States coins is that they were the first (and only) U.S. gold coins to use the technique known as incuse relief, giving the design elements and lettering a sunken-in appearance on a uniformly flat plane.