1909-S Indian Half Eagle. MS-64+ (PCGS). CAC. A simply outstanding example of this conditionally challenging 20th century gold issue. Beautiful orange-gold patina mingles with vibrant satin luster to provide truly memorable eye appeal. The strike is razor sharp throughout and includes a smartly impressed and crisp S mintmark. Uncommonly smooth in a 1909-S Indian five, the surfaces are at the threshold of full Gem quality. Definitely a find for the advanced collector with a focus on this challenging series.A leading rarity in the Indian Half Eagle series of 1908-1929, the 1909-S is ranked third in absolute Mint State rarity in the 2008 revision to David W. Akers book <em>A Handbook of 20th Century United States Gold Coins: 1907-1933</em>. The typical Uncirculated survivor of this 297,200-piece delivery falls somewhere in the MS-60 to MS-63 range, and even MS-64s are very scarce and can be difficult to obtain. The aforementioned Akers reference accounts for only one-to-two (!) Gems in MS-65, along with a mere three or four pieces finer. PCGS lists just 6 coins certified finer through MS-67, though this figure is no doubt inflated by resubmissions. In their era, the Indian quarter eagle and half eagle were without honor. Following the launch of Augustus Saint-Gaudens beautiful MCMVII $20, praise was unstinting for this magnificent work of art. Then in 1908, without advance notice, the new quarter eagle and half eagle appeared, the work of artist Bela Lyon Pratt. The designs were incuse -- that is recessed below the field of the coin, the latter being the highest point. The Indian Head motif and the eagle are in relief, but lowered. Great criticism was heaped upon the motif, some saying that the recessed areas could attract germs. Various writers, including well known dealer Henry Chapman, penned derogatory comments which were published in The Numismatist. The general result was that very few numismatists -- probably not more than two or three -- actually sought Indian quarter eagles and half eagles by mintmark varieties during the time they were issued. Accordingly, when these did become popular in the 1930s, but even more so beginning in the 1950s, high grade examples of certain issues ranged from rare to extremely rare, as here. Their survival was a mere matter of chance.