Indian Head Cent Small Cents
United States. Beautiful Indian Head Cent Coin.
Mint Years: (1864-1909)
Denomination: Indian Head Cent
Obverse: Indian head with headdress left above date.
Legend: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Reverse: Denomination within wreath.
Legend: ONE CENT
The Indian Head one-cent coin, also known as an Indian Penny , was produced by the United States Mint from 1859 to 1909 at the Philadelphia Mint and in 1908 and 1909 at the San Francisco Mint. It was designed by James Barton Longacre, the engraver at the Philadelphia Mint.
The obverse of the coin shows “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” the head of Liberty wearing a feather head dress of a Native American and the year of production. The word “LIBERTY” appears on the band of the head dress as is required on all United States coins. From 1859 to 1864 the design did not feature any mark of the designer. When the change to bronze (see below) occurred in 1864, Chief Engraver Longacre modified the portrait by sharpening the details. He added his initial “L” on the ribbon behind Liberty’s neck as well. This design would continue until the end of the series, with a minor modification by Charles E. Barber in 1886.
Two reverse designs were used for the series. In 1859 the reverse featured “ONE CENT” within a wreath of laurel (or properly olive). From 1860 until the end of the series the reverse featured “ONE CENT” within a wreath of oak and olive tied at the base with a ribbon with a Federal shield above. This design continued until the end on the series in 1909 with a minor modification by William Barber in 1870.
The coins struck between 1859 and 1864 contained 88% copper and 12% nickel. During this time, prior to the issuance of the Five-Cent nickel coin, the cent was commonly referred to as a “Nickel” or “Nick,” for short. Due to the hoarding of all coinage during the Civil War, the nickel cent disappeared from daily use and were replaced in many Northern cities by private tokens. The success of these copper tokens prompted the change of the cent to a similar metal. In 1864, the alloy changed to Bronze (95% copper and 5% tin and zinc), and the weight of the coins was reduced from 72 grains to 48 grains. (This weight continued for copper-alloy U.S. cents until the 1982 introduction of the current copper-plated zinc cent.
The total production of the Indian Head cent was 1,849,648,000 pieces. The 1909-S had the lowest mintage, only 309,000. It is not considered as scarce as the 1877 issue, (852,500), since fewer of those were kept, particularly in the higher grades.