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Indian Head Penny: Value, History, and Information (1859-1909)

As a United States resident, you already know that some coins are worth more than others. The increments vary significantly, but this is just one thing to take into consideration.

Some coins hold historical significance and this makes them more valuable than others. Often times, older coins tend to be worth much more than new coins.

Now, it is time to turn your attention to the Indian Head Penny. This unique coin is nearly as old as the country itself.

The United States Mint has been producing coins for the United States and other countries for many years. Initially, the Mint operated solely out of Philadelphia. That changed when the demand for coins increased significantly.

As new facilities were introduced, it became pertinent to determine where the coins were manufactured. Therefore, unique mint marks were added to the coins so their origin would be easily identifiable.

Over the years, the Mint has created an abundance of coins. The penny was one of its very first creations and it is still just as useful today as it was in the past. In fact, millions of Americans use pennies each and every single day. Suffice to say, the American Penny has undoubtedly managed to withstand the test of time and it isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.

There are some pennies that are more alluring to collectors than others. This is definitely the case with the Indian Head Penny. These coins went into production right before the start of the Civil War. They remained in production into the 20th century and then stopped. They’re nearly as popular as Liberty $5 Gold Coins. Below, you’re going to learn a great deal more about these coins and their potential value.

Check out our pre-1933 coin collection here.

More In-Depth History

The history of the Indian Head Penny is quite interesting. These pennies date back to a time when only large cent coins were in circulation. The Indian head penny first went into production in 1793. Sadly, there were problems along the way that put a stop to the production.

For instance, the United States government decided that only gold and silver should be eligible as legal tender. This made it impossible for Americans to pay their taxes using large cents. Additional changes took place in the 1850s, due to the changing copper prices.

Around this time, the United States mint was forced to shrink their coins, while also adding new metals to the mixture. Making the coins using only copper was simply too expensive. Ultimately, this led to the creation of the Flying Eagle Penny. It was produced from 1856 to 1858.

Despite being less than ninety-percent copper, the coin wouldn’t last. It would eventually be replaced by the Indian Head Penny, which entered the market in 1859.

James Barton Longacre

The Indian Head cent is unique for many reasons. Its design is definitely remarkable in numerous ways. First and foremost, you should know that the coin was actually designed by James Barton Longacre, who served as the Chief Engraver for the Philadelphia Mint.

Any collector can easily identify this type of penny and most ordinary individuals will be able to do the same. After all, the coin is generally bronze and it will feature an Indian Head in the center. This is obviously why the coin is referred to as the Indian Head cent. Just remember that the coin did go through some changes. For instance, it remained roughly the same size as a half dollar from 1793 to 1857.

It is believed that the coin is designed to resemble Lady Liberty in a Native American headdress. There are plenty of other myths surrounding the coin though. Some collectors believe that the woman on the coin is actually the designer’s daughter. Some will point out that this would be a misconception, since Sarah would have actually been 30-years-old when the coin was designed and not 12.

Controversy:

The coin’s design has sparked some controversy over the years. After all, the woman on the coin appears to be Caucasian, yet she is wearing an Indian headdress. Nevertheless, this didn’t stop the coin from being supported and printed.

On the opposite side, the coin is really pretty basic. It simply shows off the value of the coin. The coin’s reserve side was updated sometime near 1860. At this time, the coin started featuring a presidential seal. The wreath on the back was greatly improved as well. Nevertheless, the changes were minor and the Indian Head coin was still easy to identify by collectors.

Why Is The Indian Head Penny So Valuable?

It is undoubtedly true that some coins are worth far more than others. There are numerous reasons for this. A rare coin is more difficult to obtain and that will cause its price to soar.

The Indian Head penny in particular is valuable for a handful of reasons. First and foremost, the coin holds great historical significance. The coin played an important role in American history. After all, it went into production right before the start of the Civil War and it managed to withstand that battle.

Older Indian Head coins are going to sell at far higher prices than new ones. The age of the coin has also made it very popular among collectors. These coins were designed to last and this is clearly evident today.

You shouldn’t be surprised to find an Indian Head penny that appears pristine in appearance. The most valuable Indian Head Penny is the one that has a date of 1877. Nevertheless, they’re all valuable in their own right and any collector would be lucky to have one.

Selling An Indian Head Penny

Are you interested in selling Liberty $5 Gold Coins or Indian Head Pennies? If so, you will find that your options are plentiful. Just remember that not all methods are equal.

You could easily take the coin to a local dealer. Just make sure that you know its face value ahead of time. You can also sell the coins on an auction website. Alternatively, you could continue holding onto the coin. After all, its value is only going to increase over time.

Examples of Indian Head Coins to Buy:

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Historical Values of Indian Head Pennies:

DATE GOOD FINE EXTREMELY FINE UNCIRCULATED
1859 Indian Head Penny $15 $25 $110 $200
1860 Indian Head Penny $10 $20 $65 $100
1861 Indian Head Penny $25 $45 $110 $175
1862 Indian Head Penny $10 $20 $50 $75
1863 Indian Head Penny $10 $20 $50 $75
1864 Indian Head Penny $20 $40 $100 $150
1865 Indian Head Penny $15 $25 $45 $65
1866 Indian Head Penny $50 $80 $190 $250
1867 Indian Head Penny $50 $90 $230 $275
1868 Indian Head Penny $40 $70 $170 $220
1869 Indian Head Penny $85 $235 $445 $550
1870 Indian Head Penny $80 $220 $400 $500
1871 Indian Head Penny $130 $325 $575 $650
1872 Indian Head Penny $100 $370 $575 $700
1873 Indian Head Penny $25 $65 $185 $1235
1874 Indian Head Penny $20 $45 $100 $150
1875 Indian Head Penny $20 $60 $120 $160
1876 Indian Head Penny $35 $70 $225 $240
1877 Indian Head Penny $900 $1,550 $2,500 $3,000
1878 Indian Head Penny $35 $60 $200 $275
1879 Indian Head Penny $8 $20 $70 $80
1880 Indian Head Penny $5 $9 $30 $60
1881 Indian Head Penny $5 $8 $25 $35
1882 Indian Head Penny $5 $8 $25 $35
1883 Indian Head Penny $5 $8 $25 $35
1884 Indian Head Penny $5 $10 $27 $40
1885 Indian Head Penny $8 15 $65 $80
1886 Indian Head Penny $6 $20 $140 $175
1887 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $18 $28
1888 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $22 $27
1889 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $18 $30
1890 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $16 $30
1891 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $15 $30
1892 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $20 $30
1893 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $20 $30
1894 Indian Head Penny $5 $15 $50 $70
1895 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $15 $25
1896 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $15 $25
1897 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $15 $25
1898 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $15 $25
1899 Indian Head Penny $3 $5 $15 $25
1900 Indian Head Penny $2 $5 $10 $20
1901 Indian Head Penny $2 $5 $10 $20
1902 Indian Head Penny $2 $5 $10 $20
1903 Indian Head Penny $2 $5 $10 $20
1904 Indian Head Penny $2 $5 $10 $20
1905 Indian Head Penny $2 $5 $10 $20
1906 Indian Head Penny $2 $5 $10 $20
1907 Indian Head Penny $2 $5 $10 $20
1908 Indian Head Penny $2 $5 $10 $20
1908 Indian Head Penny (S) $90 $125 $175 $250
1909 Indian Head Penny $12 $17 $25 $30
1909 Indian Head Penny (S) $450 $600 $750 $850
Data taken from: Red Book