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Indian head pennies are collectors’ items that are part of coin history in the United States. The coin is also known as an Indian Penny.

Indian Head Pennies

It is special since it was only produced for a limited period of time by the United States Mint. Now, pennies have former United States President Abraham Lincoln on one side of the coin and a picture of his memorial on the other side of the coin.

What Do Indian Head Pennies Look Like?

What is most peculiar about this coin is that, in fact, it does not even have an Indian head on it! The penny is famous for its front face, which can be described as the head of Lady Liberty, a famous American iconic symbol. On the penny, Lady Liberty is wearing the headdress of a Native American. Also on the front of the coin are the words "United States of America" and "Liberty."

History of Indian Head

These coins were produced by the United States Mint between 1859 and 1908 in Philadelphia. Between 1908 and 1909, the coins were produced in the San Francisco Mint. From 1859-1864, the pennies were made from 12 percent nickel and 88 percent copper.

In 1864, the alloy use changed to bronze, which is 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc and tin. The weight was then reduced almost in half, from 72 grains to 48 grains. Overall, there were 1,849,648,000 Indian Head cents that were produced by the United States Mint.

Facts about these Special Coins

Many people are curious to know who designed these pennies. The coin itself was designed by James Barton Longacre, who was the head engraver at the Philadelphia Mint during part of the nineteenth century.

Some of the pennies minted between 1864 and 1886 have "L" printed on the front next to Liberty’s neck. Perhaps this is because Longacre wanted to add a personal initial to the design of this penny.

The last feather of the headdress was slightly moved by Charles E. Barber in the design in 1886, so pennies made after this date will look slightly different.

There are also some rare 1875 cents that have a small dot in the N of "United" on the front of the penny. Many collectors speculate that this was purposely added to catch a mint employee who was allegedly stealing coins from the mint. The discovery of this little mark has an interesting history: in 1972, a story was published using correspondence found in the United States National Archives that suggested that the mark existed, but it was not until 2008 when a coin appraiser found the little spot on the N.

Another rare coin batch was produced in 1873, when both open and closed 3s were used in the design. Also well known to collectors was the overdate of the coins in 1888/7.

What are the Pennies Worth As Collectors Items?

Most Indian Head cent coins are worth at least $1 USD as long as the date is legible, but many can bring you upwards of $20 USD. The 1909-S coin is valued by appraisers at a whopping $210 USD and the 1877 coin is valued at $440 USD – some can even sell for up to $2,400 USD. You also might find it interesting to learn that all Indian Head pennies printed after 1900 sells at auction for at least $2 USD.

The best way to find out how much your coins are worth is to have them appraised by a professional coin appraiser who will be knowledgeable enough to know if your coin is real, how old it is, which batch it was made in, and what certain peculiarities it contains.

For more information about Indian head pennies, contact the United States Mint.