The US five dollar gold (half eagle) coin was one of the first American gold coins ever produced. It was issued in 1795 at the same time as the $10 gold piece, and with the same initial design: the bust of Liberty wearing a conical cap, plus an eagle with a wreath above its head on the reverse. In 1807, Liberty’s cap was reduced in size and the eagle became more realistically depicted.
US five dollar gold coins were often melted down, as their value in gold exceeded their face value. Starting in 1834, they were produced with less gold content, and the design changed again. The motto over the eagle’s head and Liberty’s cap were both removed. This design, known as the 'Classic Head,' was in use until 1839, when the motto was replaced.
In 1908, President Roosevelt asked sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt to create new designs for US coins, including the $5 gold coin. He created what's known as the Indian Head, featuring the bust of an Indian chief on one side and an eagle with closed wings on the other. This design lasted until production of half eagle gold coins stopped in 1929.
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