David Akers (1975/88): The 1908-S is very rare in all Mint State grades but, unlike many issues of this type, the rarity does not materially increase until one reaches the MS-65 level, where the population drops off by more than half when compared to any single lower grade. However, there are a relatively high number of gems of this issue in existence ("high" as used in the context of Indian Head eagles, that is) and there are also a small number of superb quality, near perfect specimens known. Kruthoffer's brought $30,000 in 1981 and was essentially perfect, and a few others approach this level of perfection, including one in a prominent old-time Midwestern collection. I own two MS-67+ pieces, and the 1976 ANA specimen now owned by Dr. Steven Dukor, as well as the Eliasberg coin now in Dr. Thaine Price's collection, are also both distinctly better than MS-65.
The 1908-S is always very sharply struck. Like the half eagle and double eagle of the same date and mint, the 1908-S eagle comes with two very different, distinct finishes. One is frosty and very finely granular, and on these specimens the lustre is very good but not outstanding. The other finish (much more rare) is extremely satiny, and with these examples the lustre is always exceptionally radiant. Color varies on this issue from light orange and greenish gold to coppery gold. In top grade, there is no better looking coin in the series than the 1908-S.
Stack's "ANA Sale 1976 (per Akers write-up in the Thaine Price auction) - Dr. Steven Duckor - Heritage 4/2006:3885, $115,000 - Jim O'Neal - Heritage 1/2009:3507, $80,500 - Heritage 7/2009:1309, $94,875
Bentley Shores Collection - Stack’s/Bowers 8/2013:4537, $182,125