1911-S Indian Half Eagle. MS-66 (PCGS). CAC. Here is a beautiful and exceptional coin, with both sides displaying bold rose-orange and olive-gold patina and frosty mint luster. The striking detail is razor sharp throughout, including a fully formed S mintmark. Expertly preserved and solidly graded at the uppermost reaches of Gem Mint State, it is little wonder that this is the finest 1911-S half eagle known to the major certification services.Throughout the history of gold coins in the United States, many individual denominations found a particular niche to fill in day-to-day use. Some, like the eagle and the double eagle, were primarily used in overseas trade or as storehouses for wealth. Others, like the gold dollar served an almost purely ornamental role. The half eagle by contrast was the principal workhorse denomination. Usually struck in large numbers, the half eagle saw heavy use both domestically and abroad. At home, the $5 coin saw its greatest use in the West where gold and silver dominated the economic scene well into the twentieth century. Such was the case when the 1,416,000 examples of Bela Lyon Pratts groundbreaking Indian half eagle were struck. Out West the coins entered commerce and remained there until all gold was demonetized by the Presidential Gold Surrender Order of 1933. Coins held in reserve or in various bank vaults at that time ended up in the Treasurys crucibles.Only a few thousand 1911-S half eagles remain for numismatists today. Most of these are found at the higher end of the circulated grade levels. Pratts incuse design tended to attract dirt and wear on the high points of the central devices. In Mint State, the 1911-S is seldom found higher than MS-63. Approaching the Gem level it is a formidable condition rarity with only a couple dozen anywhere near the quality offered here. In his landmark series on gold coins, David W. Akers wrote of the 1911-S, "All in all, this is one of the most underrated issues of the series, if not the entire spectrum of 20th-century United States gold coins." Little has changed since the 1980s when he made that assessment. The present coin stands at the very top of the Condition Census, with none finer recorded at either service. Its provenance is equally remarkable, including the cabinets of Col. E.H.R. Green, King Farouk of Egypt, John Jay Pittman, David Akers, and finally the Pogue Family. Not publicly offered for sale in 23 years, this represents an extraordinarily rare opportunity that is not likely to repeated soon. From the D. Brent Pogue Collection. Ex "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; King Farouk of Egypt; Sothebys sale of the Palace Collections of Egypt, February 1954, part of lot 266; John J. Pittman; David W. Akers sale of the John Jay Pittman Collection, Part I, October 1997, lot 1106.