Indian Cent (1859 – 1909)

#1 Indian Head Cent Buyer Las Vegas & Henderson

History of Indian Head Small Cents

In the 1850s, many Americans actually were clamoring to have the circulation of cents diminished. What bothered them, however, wasn’t its buying power but the size of the large cent coins. The copper cent then being minted was almost as large and heavy as today’s half dollar, and many had come to consider it simply too big for their pockets.

By 1857 the cost of making copper coins had risen due to the increased price of copper. Mint Director James Ross Snowden noted in his annual report that the mint was barely making expenses due to the increased cost of copper used in both half cent and large cent coins. The mint ceased production of half-cent coins and reduced the size and weight of the penny.

The United States Mint responded to this concern in 1857 when it discontinued the large cent and half cent and introduced the nation’s first small-size cent, the Flying Eagle design. But they soon realize that the new cent featuring a portrait of an eagle in flight was a not the perfect solution. Because of deficiencies in its design, it often appears like it’s struck weakly, especially at the eagle’s tail and wingtip.

The Indian cent was first introduced in 1859, and replaced the Flying Eagle penny, with a design that lasted for fifty years, spanning through 1909. Mint Director James Ross Snowden selected the Indian Head design, and Mint Chief Engraver, James Barton Longacre, designed the coin.

On the obverse of the coin, Liberty’s face on the Indian Head small cent is similar to Longacre’s 1854 three dollar gold piece, and also bears resemblance to his 1849 gold one dollar and double eagle Liberty portraits. Wearing a beaded necklace, Liberty faces left. On her head is a nine-feathered Indian war bonnet with a band displaying LIBERTY. Locks of hair drape down the back and one end of the diamond-patterned headband curls slightly to the front, with the other end somewhat hidden between the hair and the bottom feather. Early 1864 bronze cents had the rounded tip of the bust as on the copper-nickel issues, but later coins for 1864 and all subsequent years have a pointed bust tip and a small L (for Longacre, sometimes it’s hard to see) in the lower part of the smaller ribbon to the back. UNITED STATES follows along a denticled border to the left, OF AMERICA along the right. The date is at the bottom of the bust.

The reverse has a concentric two-part wreath inside a denticled rim, tied together at the bottom by a ribbon that also binds three arrows. The wreath is mostly composed of oak leaves with acorns, though another type of leaf is shown at the bottom on the left side. The top ends of the wreath separate to allow for the placement of a small Union shield and ONE CENT is prominently displayed in the center of the flan. Bronze Indian Head cents, both circulation and proof issues, were produced every year in Philadelphia, and at San Francisco in 1908 and 1909; the S mintmark is located on the reverse, below the tie of the ribbon, and slightly off-center to the right.

The coins that were struck between 1859 and 1864 were a copper-nickel coin, composed of 88 percent copper and 12 percent nickel, as required by law. This copper-nickel alloy made the Indian cent a light color that led to its being called a “white” cent.

The Indian Head Cent remained in use for half a century before giving way to the Lincoln cent in 1909. All issues were minted at the Philadelphia Mint, except for the last two years when the San Francisco Branch Mint struck India Head Pennies in 1908 and 1909. All in all, the total production of the Indian Head cent was 1,849,648,000 pieces.

What is a Indian Head Small Cent

The previous Flying Eagle small cent design had been minted for only three years (including the 1856 pattern). The apparent reason for the change from the Flying Eagle small cent design was weakness in the strike. In 1859, James B. Longacre introduced the Indian Head small cent design, and the minting of this design started at that same year.

Indian Head small cent replaced the Flying Eagle small cent in 1859, and this lasted for half-a-century, or through 1909. It has a total production of 1,849,648,000 pieces.

The obverse features an Indian head (Liberty) facing to the left, wearing a feather bonnet. The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the bust and is placed near the dentilled rim. The word LIBERTY is shown on the band across the bonnet. The date it was minted is struck at the bottom of the bust.

The reverse features a laurel wreath that surrounds the word ONE CENT, which is the denomination or price value of the coin. But in 1860, the reverse design was changed slightly, replacing the laurel wreath with an oak wreath, with three arrows inserted under the ribbon that binds the two branches of the wreath. Above and between the ends of the branches is the shield of the United States that can be seen on top of the word ONE CENT.

Composition and Specifications of Indian Head Small Cents

The Indian Head penny was introduced in 1859 with a composition of 88 percent copper and 12 percent nickel and a diameter of 19 mm and a weight of 4.67 grams. In 1864 the composition was changed to 95 percent copper and 5 percent tin with a reduced weight of 3.11 grams. James B. Longacre designed both the obverse and the reverse of this classic American coin.

These are the three conditional factors that determine the value of a Draped Bust Large Cent coins and they are: Red (RD), RB (Red-Brown), BN (Brown). A RD coin is going to have at least 90% original luster as struck by the mint and is the most valuable condition. The luster conditions only apply to mint state coins so any circulated coin will be designated BN.

Indian Head pennies were produced at two different mints: Philadelphia (no mint mark), and San Francisco (S). The mint mark is located on the reverse of the coin, just below the wreath.

Designer: James B. Longacre
Circulation Mintage: high 49,840,000 (1863), low 13,740,000 (1864, copper-nickel composition. Additional 1864 business strike coins were minted in bronze.)
Proof Mintage:high 1,000 (1860 and 1861, estimated), low 370 (1864, copper-nickel composition, estimated. Additional 1864 proof coins were minted in bronze.)
Denomintion: $0.01 One cent (1/100)
Diameter: ±19 mm, plain edge
Metal content: 88% copper, 12% nickel
Weight: ±4.67 grams
Varieties: Plain, very few known, primarily date and die doubling examples. The best known variety is the 1860 Pointed Bust, so-called because the tip of the bust (to the left) is more pointed than the rounded end typically seen.

How We Grade Indian Head Small Cents

These are the different grades of Indian Head Small Cent:

  • Uncirculated: These are the coins that never made it out onto the open market. They normally have a brand new look or same as how it looked like when it was first minted way back in 1859 to 1909.
  • Extremely Fine: These coins look the same as uncirculated but it has few minor scratches and chips. These imperfections are noticeable but nothing so large that it will detract from the appearance of the coin.
  • Fine: These coins were likely been circulated for over a long period of time. They have scratches and chips but the letters and numbers on the surface image can still be seen by the naked eye.
  • Good: These are the coins that have been heavily circulated and damaged. The letters and numbers worn away due to deep scratching and smoothing. Most good graded coins are in the worst condition.

We prefer coins that have been graded and certified as authentic by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), though we will still give a fair deal for these coins.

Price Quote for Indian Head Small Cents

We have different estimated prices for these years of production of Indian Head small cents. Prices varies from 1859 to 1863, 1864 to 1868, 1869 to 1872, 1873 to 1876, 1877, 1878 to 1885, 1886 to 1887, 1888, 1889 to 1908, and 1909.

Indian Head small cents struck in 1877 and 1909 are both key dates, that means their price are higher than the other years, except for 1888. The 1888 Indian Head small cent is the rarest of all, this also means that it has the highest value among the rest.

For the 1859 to 1863 Indian Head small cents, the price for Good graded coins reach up to $14; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $28; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reach up to $120; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $280.

For the 1864 to 1868 Indian Head small cents price for Good graded coins reaches up to $70; for the Fine graded coins, the prices can reach up to $160; while the price for Extremely Fine graded coins can range up to $290; and the Uncirculated graded coins reaches up to $450.

The 1869 to 1872 Indian Head small cents, the price for Good graded coins can reach up to $140; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $350; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reaches up to $600; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $1,030.

And the 1873 to 1876 Indian Head small cents, the price for Good graded coins can reach up to $40; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $75; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reaches up to $240; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $320.

While the 1877 Indian Head small cent, the price for Good graded coins can reach up to $970; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $1,600; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reaches up to $2,600; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $4,100.

The 1878 to 1885 Indian Head small cents, the price for Good graded coins can reach up to $40; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $60; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reaches up to $215; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $350.

For the 1886 to 1887 Indian Head small cents, the price for Good graded coins can reach up to $9; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $30; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reaches up to $190; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $350.

While the 1888 Indian Head small cent, the price for Good graded coins can reach up to $1,200; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $2,100; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reaches up to $8,000; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $24,300.

The 1889 to 1908 Indian Head small cents, the price for Good graded coins can reach up to $100; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $130; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reaches up to $190; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $310.

And the 1909 Indian Head small cents, the price for Good graded coins can reach up to $570; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $710; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reaches up to $890; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $1,070.

Uncirculated coins price higher than the other grades because it has never been used or circulated in the open market, and it looks brand new with no imperfections or scratches.

We buy Indian Head small cents of 1859 to 1909. We will buy your coins no matter the grade and the condition. So, if you have Indian Head small cent coins, sell it to us and we will give you a good deal for your coins. Contact us now!

 

 

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