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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

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1864 BRONZE INDIAN HEAD CENT PCGS MS65
Feb 25, 9:00 AM MST
1864 BRONZE INDIAN HEAD CENT PCGS MS65
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$44021 Bids
Partial Set of Indian Cents 65 coins
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
Partial Set of Indian Cents 65 coins
by Michiana Auctions & Estate Sale Center
Est: $600- $700
$15011 Bids
1864-L Indian Head Cent - WOODGRAIN **CHOICE AU**
Feb 24, 7:00 PM EST
1864-L Indian Head Cent - WOODGRAIN **CHOICE AU**
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$6811 Bids
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1760 NO 'P' HIBERNIA-VOCE POPULI 1/2 CENT NGC AU53 BN
Feb 25, 9:00 AM MST
1760 NO 'P' HIBERNIA-VOCE POPULI 1/2 CENT NGC AU53 BN
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$16010 Bids
1863 Indian Head Cent - NCG Cert. MS66
Feb 24, 7:00 PM EST
1863 Indian Head Cent - NCG Cert. MS66
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$469 Bids
1895 Indian Head Cent PR63 RB PCGS "Rattler"
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
1895 Indian Head Cent PR63 RB PCGS "Rattler"
by Michiana Auctions & Estate Sale Center
Est: $300- $350
$1508 Bids
10 US Indian head pennies, various dates and conditions (coins)
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
10 US Indian head pennies, various dates and conditions (coins)
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $20- $100
$1008 Bids
**SCARCE DATE** 1872 Indian Head Cent - Fine/VF!!
Mar 02, 7:00 PM EST
**SCARCE DATE** 1872 Indian Head Cent - Fine/VF!!
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$187 Bids
1887 Indian Head Cent
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
1887 Indian Head Cent
by Michiana Auctions & Estate Sale Center
Est: $40- $50
$707 Bids
1904 Indian Head Cent **GEM BU**
Feb 24, 7:00 PM EST
1904 Indian Head Cent **GEM BU**
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$157 Bids
PARTIAL INDIAN HEAD CENTS 1857-1909 ALBUM
Feb 27, 11:00 AM EST
PARTIAL INDIAN HEAD CENTS 1857-1909 ALBUM
by Silver City Auctions
Est: $2,100- $2,400
$1705 Bids
*Key Date* 1908-S Indian Cent **FINE**
Feb 24, 7:00 PM EST
*Key Date* 1908-S Indian Cent **FINE**
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$405 Bids
Last 20 years of Indian Cents folder
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
Last 20 years of Indian Cents folder
by Michiana Auctions & Estate Sale Center
Est: $30- $40
$254 Bids
1907 Red Indian Head Cent, Four Diamonds, Full Liberty, Beads
Feb 26, 5:00 PM EST
1907 Red Indian Head Cent, Four Diamonds, Full Liberty, Beads
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$54 Bids
1899 Indian Cent MS66 RB PCGS
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
1899 Indian Cent MS66 RB PCGS
by Michiana Auctions & Estate Sale Center
Est: $250- $275
$754 Bids
1902 Red Indian Head Cent, Four Diamonds, Full Liberty, Beads
Feb 26, 5:00 PM EST
1902 Red Indian Head Cent, Four Diamonds, Full Liberty, Beads
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$44 Bids
1863 Indian Head Cent - NGC AU58
Feb 24, 7:00 PM EST
1863 Indian Head Cent - NGC AU58
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$444 Bids
1c 1909-S Indian
Mar 09, 11:00 AM EST
1c 1909-S Indian
by Mitchell Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$1003 Bids
1899 Indian Head Cent, Four Diamonds, Full Liberty, Beads
Feb 26, 5:00 PM EST
1899 Indian Head Cent, Four Diamonds, Full Liberty, Beads
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$23 Bids
Lot of Indian Head Pennies LOT 814
Feb 25, 5:00 PM EST
Lot of Indian Head Pennies LOT 814
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
$123 Bids
1873 Indian Cent AU Details NGC Open 3
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
1873 Indian Cent AU Details NGC Open 3
by Michiana Auctions & Estate Sale Center
Est: $175- $200
$453 Bids
1906 Indian Head Cent - RED/BROWN **GEM BU**
Feb 24, 7:00 PM EST
1906 Indian Head Cent - RED/BROWN **GEM BU**
by Big Dog Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$223 Bids
1888 Indian Head Cent
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
1888 Indian Head Cent
by Michiana Auctions & Estate Sale Center
Est: $15- $20
$102 Bids
1903 Indian Head Cent FULL LIBERTY
Feb 25, 11:00 AM CST
1903 Indian Head Cent FULL LIBERTY
by McCurley Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$72 Bids

Sellers Who Sell United States Indian Head Coins


Gold Standard Auctions

Gold Standard Auctions

Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers

Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers