Little-Known Facts About Indian Head Pennies And Which Ones Are The Most Valuable

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Have an Indian Head penny and want to know what it’s worth?

First, I’ve got a few little-known facts about Indian Head pennies that you might find interesting.

 

Did You Know?…

  • The Indian Head penny does not actually have an Indian on it. It is, in fact, Liberty wearing an Indian headdress.
  • The designer and engraver of the coin was James B. Longacre.
  • Indian Head pennies were minted from 1859 until 1909.

The Indian head penny was minted from 1859 to 1909. Here are some interesting facts about Indian Head pennies.

  • During the first year that Indian Head pennies were minted (1859), they had a laurel wreath on the reverse and were made of a copper-nickel composition.
  • In 1860, the U.S. Mint changed the laurel wreath to an oak wreath and added a small shield at the top of the Indian head penny.
  • The United States Mint changed the composition of the Indian Head penny to bronze in 1864.
  • Near the end of 1864, they added a small letter L (the initial of Longacre’s last name) to the lower ribbon of the headdress on Indian Head pennies.
  • The design remained unchanged after that — until the Indian Head penny was replaced by the Lincoln penny in 1909.
  • The 1908 and 1909 coins are the only 2 Indian Head pennies that have mint marks on them.

 

How Much Are Indian Head Pennies Worth?

Picture of a 1905 Indian Head Penny

Indian Head pennies dated in the 1900s are generally worth between $1 and $10 for problem-free examples in circulated grades — with a few exceptions:

  • 1908-S — It has a low mintage of just 1,115,000 pieces and is worth $70+.
  • 1909-S — Only 309,000 examples of this coin were minted at the San Francisco Mint before the introduction of the Lincoln penny. This scarce issue is worth more because the Lincoln penny took over. It’s worth $350+.

See how the color of an Indian Head penny makes a difference in its value.

Indian Head pennies dated from 1887 to 1899 are worth between $2.50 and $20 for problem-free circulated examples — with a few exceptions:

  • 1888 — Some have the “8” stamped over the top of a “7” — these range in value from $1,000 to $10,000 for examples in problem-free circulated grades.
  • 1894 — On some issues, the date was doubled, making these neat error varieties worth $20 to $200 in problem-free circulated grades.

See which Indian Head pennies are rare.

Indian Head pennies from earlier years (1859 to 1886) are worth significantly more:

  • 1886 — $4 to $150+
  • 1885 — $6 to $65+
  • 1884 — $4 to $27+
  • 1883 — $4 to $20+
  • 1882 — $4 to $20+
  • 1881 — $4 to $20+
  • 1880 — $4 to $30+
  • 1879 — $5 to $60+
  • 1878 — $25 to $175+
  • 1877 — I call this one “The Chief.” It is the second-lowest minted Indian Head penny next to the 1909-S and is just as sought after, if not more, by collectors. The value is generally between $700 and $2,000 for circulated examples — and many examples are worth even more!
  • 1876 — $27 to $180+
  • 1875 — $15 to $100+
  • 1874 — $15 to $100+
  • 1873 — $15 to $125+
  • 1873 with doubled LIBERTY — $150 to $2,400+
  • 1872 — $70 to $500+
  • 1871 — $55 to $500+
  • 1870 — $40 to $325+
  • 1869 — $65 to $375+
  • 1868 — $35 to $170+
  • 1867 — $42 to $200+
  • 1866 — $43 to $170+
  • 1865 — $11 to $40+
  • 1864 bronze with L — $47 to $225+
  • 1864 bronze no L — $12 to $60+
  • 1864 copper-nickel — $16 to $80+
  • 1863 — $8 to $45+
  • 1862 — $8 to $45+
  • 1861 — $18 to $75+
  • 1860 — $8 to $60+
  • 1859 — $11 to $100+

Prices are for problem-free circulated Indian Head pennies grading Good-4 through Extremely Fine-40 and are typical market values. Cleaned, corroded, or otherwise-damage coins are worth less than the prices listed here. You may receive less than the values listed here if you offer these coins for sale to a coin dealer. These prices do not include Mint State-graded coins (MS-60 or higher) — which would command a higher price.

See how the Indian Head penny value has changed through the years.

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14 thoughts on “Little-Known Facts About Indian Head Pennies And Which Ones Are The Most Valuable”

  1. I have a 1908 Indian head penny. I found after i made a purchase at a convenient store and was wondering if it was worth much. I’m not sure but i think i might see a hint if an S on the back (its a little worn) but it’s pretty cool i think. I also have a 1943 steel penny

    Reply
    • Hi, Justin –

      Wow, incredible find, Justin! Whether its a 1908 or 1908-S Indian cent, you still have a coin worth much more than face value.

      A 1908 Indian Head with a typical amount of wear cent is worth $2 to $5.

      A 1908-S Indian Head cent is worth $50 to $150 and up.

      Reply
    • Hello, Rudy —

      Your 1897 Indian Head cent is worth about $2 to $3 USD if it’s in worn condition. These coins were made in the United States between the years 1859 and 1909.

      These are very historic and popular U.S. coins!

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
  2. Hola tengo monedas con error de 1centavo de 1947_1963_1968_1975_1983_1984_69_74_55_57 pero hay una moneda la del 1963 es de 1centavo pero esta no se si es plata o aluminio por el color k brilla kisiera saber si también lo colecciónan

    Reply
  3. I have a 1928 penny. Large size with a pic of a warrior on one side and a mans head on the other. say’s georgivs dei gra britt omn rex pid def ind imp. on it. can someone give me some info. about it.

    Reply
  4. hey, there
    I recently came across an 1871 Indian Head penny I’ve had for quite some time.
    I’m assuming the prices quoted here are for pretty pristine condition? The low end being for rough condition?

    Reply
    • Hi, Kristin —

      Generally, the prices I quote are for pieces in “average circulated” and undamaged condition. Cleaned coins, or those with holes, bends, or other imperfections are worth far less.

      A typical, well-worn 1871 Indian Head cent is worth around $75 and up.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
  5. I have an 1882/3 Indian head error coin. I’ve spent hours looking online and in books and can’t find a single one. Does this potentially mean I may have a million dollar coin

    Reply
    • Hi, Sebastian –

      I’m afraid to burst your numismatic bubble, but it looks like the tips of the “2” have been worn into the central trunk of the number, causing the enclosed loops. This appears to follow the ordinary wear pattern for this date.

      Take care,
      Josh

      Reply
  6. I have a 1901 Indian head penny that is what is one would say “colored” can anyone help me with finding out more about this coin? It looks painted and I can’t seem to find any history about it.

    Reply
    • Hi, Angel —

      Would you please post a couple clear photos of your 1901 Indian Head penny here and I’ll be glad to assist further?

      Thank you,
      Josh

      Reply

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