The Philadelphia Mint struck Proof Indian Head Quarter Eagles for collectors only during the first portion of the series from 1908 to 1915. During this time, the proof coins were minted using three distinctive finishes, although usually only classified as two.
In 1908, the proof coins were the sandblasted or matte proofs. The surfaces do not show much reflectivity, but show granularity from the process of sandblasting. The proofs minted in 1909 and 1910 feature a so-called Roman finish, having slightly reflective surfaces. The proofs produced from 1911 to 1915 once again carried the matte proof finish, but feature less granularity than the 1908 issue. Regardless of finish, Proof Indian Quarter Eagles are extremely rare with limited mintages and low survival rates.
One unique rarity emerges amongst these scarce proof coins. During the 1910, a total of 682 proof quarter eagles were struck. All pieces except one were produced with the Roman Finish. The single distinctive piece was struck with a matte proof finish. This coin now resides within a complete set of 1910 matte proof gold coins.
The Mint did not change back to matte proofs until 1911, and these coins appear to have been made as test pieces before they went into production during the next year. Each coin in the set is believed to be unique, although there are people that claim there are more matte proofs around. Despite the rumors, only a single matte proof 1910 Gold Quarter Eagle has been graded to date.