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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3 Indian Head Cents
Oct 19, 6:00 PM CDT
3 Indian Head Cents
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$4010 Bids
Partial Set Of Indian Head Cents Missing 7 Coins
Oct 20, 5:00 PM EDT
Partial Set Of Indian Head Cents Missing 7 Coins
by Saco River Auction
Est: $500- $700
$757 Bids
The American Indian set
Oct 19, 6:00 PM CDT
The American Indian set
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$186 Bids
Indian head penny set
Oct 22, 6:00 PM CDT
Indian head penny set
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$1006 Bids
1908-s Indian Cent 1c Grades AU, Almost Unc
Oct 19, 5:45 PM EDT
1908-s Indian Cent 1c Grades AU, Almost Unc
by Key Date Coins, Inc.
Est: $115- $230
$906 Bids
***Auction Highlight*** 1908-s Indian Cent 1c Graded ms63 rd details By SEGS (fc)
Oct 18, 5:45 PM EDT
***Auction Highlight*** 1908-s Indian Cent 1c Graded ms63 rd details By SEGS (fc)
by Key Date Coins, Inc.
Est: $450- $900
$2105 Bids
1866 Indian Cent 1c Grades Select Unc BN
Oct 19, 5:45 PM EDT
1866 Indian Cent 1c Grades Select Unc BN
by Key Date Coins, Inc.
Est: $228- $457
$655 Bids
***Auction Highlight*** 1863 Indian Cent 1c Graded ms65 By SEGS (fc)
Oct 18, 5:45 PM EDT
***Auction Highlight*** 1863 Indian Cent 1c Graded ms65 By SEGS (fc)
by Key Date Coins, Inc.
Est: $485- $970
$1105 Bids
1868 Indian Head Cent - VG Fine Condition - Key Date!
Oct 18, 5:00 PM EDT
1868 Indian Head Cent - VG Fine Condition - Key Date!
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$755 Bids
Indian head pennies
Oct 19, 6:00 PM CDT
Indian head pennies
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$124 Bids
INDIAN HEAD CENT LOT:
Oct 19, 11:00 AM EDT
INDIAN HEAD CENT LOT:
by Silver City Auctions
Est: $85- $100
$214 Bids
Indian head pennies
Oct 19, 6:00 PM CDT
Indian head pennies
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$204 Bids
50 Indian Cents In The 1800's. Average Circulated.
Oct 20, 5:00 PM EDT
50 Indian Cents In The 1800's. Average Circulated.
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$224 Bids
1871 Indian Head Cent - Key Date! Good/VG Condition!
Oct 18, 5:00 PM EDT
1871 Indian Head Cent - Key Date! Good/VG Condition!
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$364 Bids
1886 NGC MS62 BN Type 1 Indian Head Cent - Wonderful Detail!
Oct 18, 5:00 PM EDT
1886 NGC MS62 BN Type 1 Indian Head Cent - Wonderful Detail!
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$2004 Bids
Original 1810 Classic Head Cent
Oct 21, 5:00 PM EDT
Original 1810 Classic Head Cent
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$123 Bids
1869 INDIAN HEAD CENT GEM UNC RB SUPERB!
Oct 19, 11:00 AM EDT
1869 INDIAN HEAD CENT GEM UNC RB SUPERB!
by Silver City Auctions
Est: $1,700- $1,900
$2103 Bids
1869 Indian Head Cent - RARE Key Date! Excellent Detail!
Oct 18, 5:00 PM EDT
1869 Indian Head Cent - RARE Key Date! Excellent Detail!
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$1203 Bids
1863 & 1864 Indian Head Cents
Oct 19, 6:00 PM CDT
1863 & 1864 Indian Head Cents
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$83 Bids
Indian Head Cents - 1890 to 1904 - Not All Inclusive
Oct 18, 5:00 PM EDT
Indian Head Cents - 1890 to 1904 - Not All Inclusive
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$63 Bids
1875 Indian Cent 1c Grades Unc+ BN
Oct 19, 5:45 PM EDT
1875 Indian Cent 1c Grades Unc+ BN
by Key Date Coins, Inc.
Est: $145- $291
$453 Bids
1863 Indian Head Cent. XF++ Beautiful Coin!!
Oct 18, 5:00 PM EDT
1863 Indian Head Cent. XF++ Beautiful Coin!!
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$133 Bids
(5) INDIAN HEAD CENTS
Oct 19, 5:00 PM EDT
(5) INDIAN HEAD CENTS
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$73 Bids
35 Indian 1c. Good/Better.
Oct 20, 5:00 PM EDT
35 Indian 1c. Good/Better.
by Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer
Est: $1- $5,000
$133 Bids

Sellers Who Sell United States Indian Head Coins


Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Gold Standard Auctions

Gold Standard Auctions

Silver City Auctions

Silver City Auctions