The Indian Head penny was made in the United States between the years or 1859 and 1909. Originally, the Indian Head penny was produced using a copper nickel alloy, giving rise to the nickname, “white cents” for the newly designed pennies of America.
During the height of the American Civil War, however, the mints went back to making the Indian Head penny as they had made every penny up until 1857, out of just copper, creating a thinner, more practical penny as a result. The planchet design for the new Indian Head penny would carry over into the Lincoln cent series and last for over 120 years.
Although the Indian Head penny is admired for its beauty in design and attempt at capturing the spirit of the Native American culture permeating the continent at the time, the actual design is that of the common Liberty face, of American coinage past, simply wearing a Native American headdress. Most examples of the Indian Head penny series were produced at the Philadelphia mint. It wasn’t until the last two ears of the series that the Indian Head penny was also produced in San Francisco.
Following the short, three year run of the Flying Eagle pennies between 1856 and 1858, the Indian Head penny was minted for just over 50 years and stayed in common circulation for many decades after, until eventually coin collectors weeded out most specimens of the Indian Head penny to fit into their personal collections.
Nowadays, it’s very difficult to find the Indian Head penny in circulating change, even though the Indian Head penny still has its legal tender status. Most coins in the Indian Head penny series do not carry a hugely significant value.
There are very few key dates and only coins that are in a beautiful shape can be worth a large amount. Since the coins of the Indian Head penny series were well used, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find an example of the Indian Head penny that meets the criteria needed to classify the coins as having great value. Still, the Indian Head penny can commonly trade for no less than a few cents above its face value, leaving the percentage of value increase nothing to sneeze at. So if you have an Indian Head Penny, make sure not to spend it as just a penny. Instead, bring the Indian Head penny into any one of the Nevada Coin & Jewelry locations serving the Las Vegas valley and let one of our highly respected coin professionals examine it to determine its value on the collectible market.
You may be pleasantly surprised by discovering you have a Indian Head penny that started out as being just a penny over 100 years ago and which is now worth perhaps a couple dollars, or maybe even more.