David Akers (1975/88): The 1911-D is the rarest date of the series in all grades from circulated to gem Uncirculated. Its mintage is less than one fourth the mintage of the next rarest date in the series, the 1914. Most known examples are in the lower Mint State grades, and obtaining one in MS-60 to 62 condition can uaually be accomplished with only a little searching. However, in MS-63 condition this issue is seldom available, and anything better than MS-63 is extremely difficult to locate.
Like all Indian Head quarter eagles and half eagles, there always seems to be a touch of friction or a break in the luster on the cheek to keep an otherwise outstanding specimen from a higher grade. I have seen at least three specimens that were virtually perfect and graded at least MS-67 while I have never seen a 1914 in that grade. But strictly at the MS-65 level, there seems to be a few more of the 1914 than there are of the 1911-D, and there are definitely more examples of the 1914 available in MS-64. For this reason I have ranked the 1911-D as the series' rarest issue in MS-64 or higher grade even though it is currently fashionable for some to rank the 1914 higher.
The 1911-D is usually very well struck although the mintmark is somewhat a little weak. The surface is often granular, the lustre a bit subdued and the color is typically a light orange gold color, sometimes with a light greenish tint. A raised knife edge on the obverse rim's upper right quadrant is a hallmark of all genuine pieces.
The 1911-D has been widely counterfeited, usually by adding a D mintmark to a genuine 1911. On a genuine 1911-D, the mintmark is usually very weak and there is always a partial wire rim on the obverse between 12 and 3 o'clock.
David Hall: This is the key date to the $2.5 Indian series and is one of the more famous key dates of the 20th century. Decades ago (1950s and 1960s and before) everyone viewed coins based on mintages. The 1911-D has an original mintage of only 55,680 coins. The next lowest mintage is the 1914 with 240,000 minted and average mintages for $2.5 Indians is in the 400,000 to 500,000 range. So the low mintage of the 1911-D certainly was easy to notice. At the time, the 1911-D was way more expensive in all grades than any other $2.5 Indian.
Nowadays, we realize original mintage is not the only factor in rarity and we focus more on survival estimates. And we have better tools in population reports and expert survival estimates, which are now very comprehensive on PCGS CoinFacts. For the 1911-D $2.5, its status as a rarity has held up. It is still the rarest $2.5 Indian and it is still way more expensive than the other dates in the series in circulated grades. It is also the most expensive $2.5 Indian in mint state grades. There are a handle of Gems known, including several superb MS66s.
Note that there is one variety of 1911-D $2.5 that has a very weak (barely visible to say the least) mint mark. Though rarer than "strong mint mark" variety, it sells for much less. Seems that when someone buys a 1911-D $2.5 they actually want to see the D!
B. Max Mehl, believed late 1930s - Ambassador & Mrs. R. Henry Norweb - Norweb Collection - Bowers & Merena 3/1988:2122, $30,800 - Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 10/1999:643, $63,250 - H.R. Luchs Collection - Heritage 1/2005:30421, $161,000 - Atherton Family Collection - Heritage 3/2010:2176, $172,500 - Heritage 4/2013:4476, $176,250
Heritage 7/2004:8103, $184,000
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