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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Legendary Coins and Currency
Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors
Clubs & Associations
- The Fly In Club
- Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors
- American Numismatic Association
- American Numismatic Society
- Numismatic Bibliomania Society
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Indian Head Cents
Source: Google News
Finding treasures under the trackKenosha News, July 18th
BY JON BRINES. email@example.com. Dirt fishing at the Velodrome on one day found a jack set from the 1940\'s, an Indian head penny and other coins as well as a bicycle part that needs more research. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY JON BRINES )...Read more
Inspiration Point: What are you collecting?Pamplin Media Group, July 15th
Ernie said, “Have you ever seen an Indian head penny?” He retrieved coin after coin from his pockets. With each appearance, he told their story. The coins were precious to Ernie. Price tags were still affixed to the cardboard packaging. When the coin...Read more
Art Beat: Put Alaska civil rights hero Elizabeth Peratrovich on the $10 billAlaska Dispatch News, July 2nd
Not just any minority; she's a Native American, a group typically represented as a symbol -- like the guy on the buffalo nickel or the old Indian-head penny -- rather than as real people. (Though we must note that Pocohantas is on the 1869 $10 bill...Read more
Digging Ends At Parker Academy For NowWVXU, May 28th
We have an Indian Head penny from the 1880s. We found some clay marbles that are hand painted.” Jones says a single musket ball was found by the front door. She says that lends credence to the story the school was attacked by slave catchers. “There is ...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
Indian Head Cent Stood Test of TimeNumisMaster.com, August 31st
James Longacre must have been a better engraver than his critics thought. In designing the Indian Head cent, he managed to blend seemingly inconsistent design elements into a masterpiece that remained in production for half a century. A Caucasian ...Read more