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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Small find creates a mountain of motivationSt. Cloud Times, April 25th
headdress with perfect feathers. "United States of America," was curved near the rim. Dated 1881! The reverse showed ONE CENT surrounded by a laurel wreath wrapped around pointed arrows. An Indian head penny! I was ecstatic! Story continues below...Read more
Whenever You Dig a HoleWashington Post, April 16th
I could not find a doubloon or even an Indian-head penny. Not a dinosaur bone nor soldier's button. Wait, is that a piece of old glass? Yes! My finger is bleeding. When I moved to DC, it was a different story. Holes here yield clay also, but of a...Read more
Despite her blindness, Janet Roberts digs up forgotten treasureThe Register-Guard, April 12th
An 1898 Indian Head penny. A pinback button from the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen, circa 1917. A student's 1987-88 Churchill High School ID card. A still-full nitrous oxide tank. Those are just some of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of things ...Read more
Coin shop retiree's pastimeThe Daily Advocate, April 2nd
His favorite coin is the Indian head penny. “Those are what I started out on,” Murphy said. “Whenever I was in school at Ludy, I took care of the flower fund and exchanged my pennies for the Indian head pennies that I was given.” The regular silver...Read more
It Happened In Crawford County: Auctioneer focusBucyrus Telegraph Forum, April 2nd
Lyle sold old coin collections; gold, silver, including 1928 silver dollars, 1877 Indian head penny; proof and mint sets. Postcard dealer Howard Clapper from Mt. Gilead owned “The Pumpkin Patch” and Gebhardt sold his collection of around 30,000 cards...Read more
Key Date Indian Head CentsCoin Update News, November 21st
After the Flying Eagle cent had briefly been struck for circulation in 1857 and 1858 (in addition to pattern pieces struck in 1856, often included with the two other dates), the Indian Head Cent was introduced in 1859. It would by struck for half a...Read more
Treasure Hunting for the Transitional Pattern 1859 Indian Head CentCoin Update News, October 31st
In 1859 an estimated 1,000 or more specimens were made of a so-called transitional pattern (Pollock-272, Judd-228) utilizing the standard 1859 Indian Head cent obverse in combination with the oak wreath and shield reverse (as regularly adopted in 1860)...Read more
1872 Indian Head cent shines in MS-65Numismatic News, February 29th
The 1872 Indian Head cent is no longer a secret. It might be surprising to some, but for decades the 1872 Indian Head cent received very little attention as being an especially tough date. That was largely because Indian Head cents were like most other ...Read more