Loading Spinner

United States Indian Head Coins

The Indian head cent was a popular penny that ran from 1859 to 1909. Prior to the Indian head, pennies were either much larger or much thicker. The Indian head was the first penny design that displayed roughly modern proportions. The flying eagle penny prior to the Indian head proved to be very problematic to strike well, influencing the mint director to choose a design based upon the ease of its minting as opposed to the design itself.

One of the most incongruous aspects of this design was the Indian head obverse. Although chief engraver James Longacre, who was responsible for the design, defended his choices, the fact that the obverse featured the female Liberty wearing a headdress that was reserved for male warriors in Native American culture was not missed. The coin's size and functionality was popular, but the obverse's strange juxtaposition was met with criticism. Interestingly, the same visual marriage of female bust and male headdress was revisited by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in his eagle design from 1907 to 1916.

The Indian head cent's demise came at the hands of President Theodore Roosevelt, who had a mission to beautify America's coinage, enlisting the aid of private sculptors. This led him to work with Saint-Gaudens, who was hired to create new designs for each denomination. Saint-Gaudens was terminally ill, however, and only had a chance to submit one potential design for the cent, which was rejected because cents cannot legally depict an eagle due to 1873 legislation. This led President Roosevelt to instead honor President Lincoln on the centennial of his birth. The new Lincoln cent and the Indian head penny were minted side by side in 1909, marking the end of the Indian head's exclusive 50-year run.


Quick Facts

  • The record auction for an Indian head cent is held by an 1859 double-obverse error sold for $195,000 in 2008. The highest non-error example is an 1864 proof, which hit $161,000 in 2012
  • Some 1875 Indian head cents have a small dot added by the letter N in the word ONE on the reverse. It is speculated that this was added at the Mint as a way to catch a thief on staff
  • The closed 3 Indian head is desirable to collectors. Complaints were aired early in 1873 that the 3 in the date looked too much like an 8. The error was fixed, resulting in both closed 3 and open 3 varieties

Recommended Items at Auction

See all items

1864 CN INDIAN CENT ICG MS-66
Sep 27, 11:00 AM EDT
1864 CN INDIAN CENT ICG MS-66
by Silver City Auctions
Est: $3,000- $3,200
$957 Bids
1 OUNCE .999 FINE SILVER INDIAN HEAD BUFFALO ***1 OZ. SILVER***
Sep 30, 7:00 PM EDT
1 OUNCE .999 FINE SILVER INDIAN HEAD BUFFALO ***1 OZ. SILVER***
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$166 Bids
1909-S INDIAN CENT CH BU RED
Sep 27, 11:00 AM EDT
1909-S INDIAN CENT CH BU RED
by Silver City Auctions
Est: $1,200- $1,300
$1106 Bids
Original 1864 L Indian Head Cent
Sep 30, 6:00 PM EDT
Original 1864 L Indian Head Cent
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$125 Bids
1 OUNCE .999 FINE SILVER INDIAN HEAD BUFFALO ***1 OZ. SILVER***
Sep 30, 7:00 PM EDT
1 OUNCE .999 FINE SILVER INDIAN HEAD BUFFALO ***1 OZ. SILVER***
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$134 Bids
1906 Indian 1c. High Grade.
Sep 28, 5:00 PM EDT
1906 Indian 1c. High Grade.
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$114 Bids
1 OUNCE .999 FINE SILVER INDIAN HEAD BUFFALO ***1 OZ. SILVER***
Sep 30, 7:00 PM EDT
1 OUNCE .999 FINE SILVER INDIAN HEAD BUFFALO ***1 OZ. SILVER***
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$173 Bids
1877 Indian Head Cent – PCGS MS 65 RB (CAC)
Oct 13, 5:30 PM EDT
1877 Indian Head Cent – PCGS MS 65 RB (CAC)
by Redding Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$2053 Bids
Indian Head Penny Collection
Sep 27, 5:00 PM EDT
Indian Head Penny Collection
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$63 Bids
6-Indian Cents. All In 1800's. All Have Full Liberty. Circulated.
Sep 28, 5:00 PM EDT
6-Indian Cents. All In 1800's. All Have Full Liberty. Circulated.
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$63 Bids
1874 Indian Head Cent CLOSELY UNCIRCULATED
Sep 29, 5:00 PM CDT
1874 Indian Head Cent CLOSELY UNCIRCULATED
by Gold Standard Auctions
Est: $100- $10,000
$403 Bids
(3) Original 1892-1897 Indian Head PCS Page Sets
Sep 30, 6:00 PM EDT
(3) Original 1892-1897 Indian Head PCS Page Sets
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$62 Bids
1892 Indian Head Cent
Sep 30, 6:00 PM EDT
1892 Indian Head Cent
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$62 Bids
1909 Indian Head Cent
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
1909 Indian Head Cent
by McCurley Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$42 Bids
1909-S INDIAN CENT AU/BU
Sep 27, 11:00 AM EDT
1909-S INDIAN CENT AU/BU
by Silver City Auctions
Est: $800- $900
$262 Bids
1 OUNCE .999 FINE SILVER INDIAN HEAD BUFFALO ***1 OZ. SILVER***
Sep 30, 7:00 PM EDT
1 OUNCE .999 FINE SILVER INDIAN HEAD BUFFALO ***1 OZ. SILVER***
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$212 Bids
1 OUNCE .999 FINE SILVER INDIAN HEAD BUFFALO ***1 OZ. SILVER***
Sep 30, 7:00 PM EDT
1 OUNCE .999 FINE SILVER INDIAN HEAD BUFFALO ***1 OZ. SILVER***
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$202 Bids
5 Indian Head Pennies 1907
Sep 27, 5:00 PM EDT
5 Indian Head Pennies 1907
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$22 Bids
1906 INDIAN CENT ICG MS-66+ RD
Sep 27, 11:00 AM EDT
1906 INDIAN CENT ICG MS-66+ RD
by Silver City Auctions
Est: $2,200- $2,400
$452 Bids
***Auction Highlight*** 1908-s Indian Cent 1c Graded ms63+ rb By SEGS (fc)
Sep 29, 11:00 AM EDT
***Auction Highlight*** 1908-s Indian Cent 1c Graded ms63+ rb By SEGS (fc)
by Key Date Coins
Est: $375- $750
$1102 Bids
4 Indian Head Pennies (Mixed Dates )
Sep 27, 5:00 PM EDT
4 Indian Head Pennies (Mixed Dates )
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$22 Bids
1863 Indian Cent 1c Grades Choice+ Unc
Sep 30, 11:00 AM EDT
1863 Indian Cent 1c Grades Choice+ Unc
by Key Date Coins
Est: $312- $625
$252 Bids
1892 Indian Cent 1c Grades GEM+ Unc BN
Sep 30, 11:00 AM EDT
1892 Indian Cent 1c Grades GEM+ Unc BN
by Key Date Coins
Est: $144- $288
$802 Bids
1861, 1862, 1863 Indian Head Pennies
Sep 27, 5:00 PM EDT
1861, 1862, 1863 Indian Head Pennies
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$62 Bids

Sellers Who Sell United States Indian Head Coins


Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Gold Standard Auctions

Gold Standard Auctions

Key Date Coins

Key Date Coins

Silver City Auctions

Silver City Auctions