The Indian Head cent, or Indian Head Penny, was designed by James Barton Longacre and struck from 1859 until 1909. It was minted in both Philadelphia and San Francisco.
The coin featured the head of Lady Liberty, facing left and wearing a Native American headdress with "Liberty" written across the band. The words "United States of America" encircle her. Popular legend has it that Longacre used his young daughter as inspiration for the design, but no proof exists to confirm nor deny this rumor.
For the first year it was struck, the reverse of the Indian Head cent depicted the denomination – the words "one cent" – inside a laurel wreath. The following year, the laurel wreath became an oak wreath, thought to symbolize authority. Arrows were added to the bottom an a heraldic shield was added at the top.
The Indian Head penny was produced using the same material as the Flying Eagle cent – a mixture of copper and nickel – until 1864, when the nickel was removed, changing the coin’s color.
Although there are slight variations in design, the images remained virtually the same (excluding the obvious change on the reverse after the first year) until the coin ceased production in 1909.
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Recent News: Indian Head Cents
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Coins bring in the dollars at auctionClinton Herald, August 23rd
An 1859 Indian Head cent quickly hit $30 and 20 foreign coins, each over 100 years old, showed strength for their age and sold for $37.50. Some defective silver coins hit the high mark of $50 and a German coin bearing the Swastika sold at $15, three 2...Read more
How to Clean Coins to Make Them More ValuableKING5.com, August 20th
You re digging through a giant jar of pennies you ve ignored for years, hoping to find something special. That s when it happens. You come across a rare Indian Head Cent from 1909, a coin that s generally worth over $400. Pretty good for one cent! But...Read more
Old Town Auburn tunnel tales: Gold, ghosts, graffiti and glow sticksAuburn Journal, August 19th
Belarde pulled an Indian head penny from 1893 that he said he was able to pull from the bottom of the tunnel. He's seen artifacts and other coins – including a bar token from the old Orleans Hotel that was torn down in 1959. “I'm on a search,” he said...Read more
Today In HistoryWaterbury Republican American, August 5th
In 1909, the original Lincoln “wheat" penny first went into circulation, replacing the “Indian Head" cent. In 1923, the 29th president of the United States, Warren G. Harding, died in San Francisco; Vice President Calvin Coolidge became president. In...Read more