Indian Head Penny Value and Prices

The US Mint has produced many coins throughout its illustrious history. However, the single-cent penny is one of the earliest coins ever made. Pennies are one of the longest-lasting coin types made by the mint and are still very useful to Americans on a daily basis.

The Indian Head design is one of the most well-liked coins ever made, especially among collectors. These coins were minted shortly before the Civil War and continued to be minted until shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. The following sections will cover more information about these coins and why collectors today are drawn to them.

Indian Head Penny History

Indian Head Penny

The Indian Head Penny dates back to when the Large-Cent coin was the only coin in circulation. When these coins were first produced in 1793, they immediately ran into issues because the US government only permitted the use of silver and gold as legal tender. Because of this, taxes and other government payments could not be made with Large-Cents.

The US Mint was then forced by changes in the price of copper at the beginning of the 1850s to look for metal alloys other than pure copper and reduce the size of its pennies (Large-Cents were roughly the size of a modern Half-Dollar at that time).

The Flying Eagle Penny was created by the US Mint in response to this need and was produced briefly between 1856 and 1858. The composition of this coin was different from conventional pennies because it contained less than 90% copper. Sadly, these coins quickly developed design flaws and required replacement. It was then replaced by the Indian Head Penny, which first appeared on the market in 1859.

Indian Head Penny Design

James Longacre, the US Mint’s temporary engraver, was the mastermind behind the design of the Indian Head Penny. Longacre argued for his recently created design in a letter to James Snowden, director of the US Mint.

Because a Caucasian woman wearing a Native American headdress is actually what is depicted on the coin’s obverse side, this design has caused some controversy in the past and continues to do so today. Although it is not the first time a non-Native American has appeared on a US coin wearing a Native headdress, it gives the coin much more intrigue.

The Indian Head Penny’s reverse side is very plain and shows a wreath around the face value of “one cent.” The coin’s reverse featured this straightforward design for the first two years of production, but by 1860, it had undergone an update. Even though the wreath still covered a portion of the “one cent” face value, the coin’s top was added with a presidential seal, and the wreath’s design became a little more complex.

SEE: Sacagawea Dollar Coin Value

Indian Head Penny Values

The Indian Head Penny’s popularity among collectors is largely due to its historical significance and the years it was minted. Collectors view these objects as a part of American history because the first years of the Indian Head’s production occurred just before the start of the Civil War. Because of this, many coins made during the first ten years of the Indian Head’s production sell today for much more money than other editions.

These coins’ age is another feature that contributes to their widespread appeal. It is extremely uncommon for coins to last longer than 100 years, so it is understandable why collectors are so fascinated with these pieces, given that many of them have survived in excellent condition.

In the end, the level of adoration for Indian Heads changes with each release. Some editions are incredibly hard to locate, while others are widely available. The rarest Indian Heads are almost always created in the early years, and the most expensive and sought-after coins fall into this category.

Market Analysis

None of the precious metals are present in Indian Head pennies (e.g., silver, gold, etc.). As a result, their value is determined by coin collectors’ demands. The market for these coins is quite active because many people collect them, and most dealers will give top dollar for excellent specimens. 

Mint Marks

Two different mints—Philadelphia (no mint mark) and San Francisco—produced Indian Head pennies (S). Indian head pennies were only produced in San Francisco in 1908 and 1909. Just below the wreath on the coin’s reverse is where you can find the mint mark.

SEE: 1886 Silver Dollar Value

5 Most Valuable Indian Head Penny

The value of the following Indian Head pennies is significantly higher than that of typical ones, regardless of condition. As a result, common Indian Head cents are frequently used to make fake or altered versions of these coins. So, before rejoicing in your early retirement and newfound wealth, have the coin verified by a reputable coin dealer or third-party grading service.

So, which coins are the most valuable, and why? We will find out the answer to that! Continue reading as we look for the most priceless Indian Head Penny ever. We’ll also look at some additional examples that have brought in a lot of cash.

1. 1864 Indian Head Penny Snow-PR2, L On Ribbon (PCGS PR65)


Indian Head Penny from 1864 is the most expensive one ever sold, and PCGS examined it and gave it a PR65 rating. A coin never meant for circulation is referred to by the acronym PR, which stands for “proof.” These days, proof coins are primarily produced for collectors because of their excellent quality. However, coin collecting was still an unusual hobby in 1864, so proofs were more difficult to locate.

This coin was produced in the final months of 1864. The portrait’s details were now more sharply defined. Additionally, Liberty’s ribbon’s bottom L was added behind her neck. The “L” represented James Longacre, the designer.

There are three different kinds of the 20 known specimens of this proof coin. This coin was of the Snow-PR2 variety, of which only seven are thought to exist.

A straight die line beneath Liberty’s ear distinguishes the type. On the reverse of the coin, there are also distinguishing die lines that are close to the edge, around 8 o’clock.

The grade of the coin is indicated by the number 65. A coin graded 65 is of above-average quality, with only minor hairlines or strikes that are not visible to the naked eye. Additionally, it was described as “red and brown. There is only one coin of higher quality, and only three of these coins are in this color combination.

In October 2011, an auction was held for this one. With the 15% buyer’s premium added, it sold for $161,000. And it’s an Indian Head Penny auction record that continues to this day.

2. 1877 Indian Head Penny Red ( PCGS MS66 )

The grade assigned to this 1877 coin was MS66. It has an above-average strike and a “full mint” luster, indicating that it is a coin in mint condition. It was also given the designation “red,” indicating that most of its initial copper color was still present.

Only a few cents were produced in 1877, the last year of a Depression. According to some experts, the actual number of units produced may have been much less than the estimated 852,500.

Regardless of the precise figures, mint state survivors from 1877 are extremely uncommon. Only six examples have been certified as MS66 by the PCGS. So there was a lot of interest when this one went up for auction in August 2007. It was sold for $146,500 after frantic bidding, including the 15% buyer’s premium.

3. 1872 Indian Head Penny Red (PCGS MS66)

In 1872, most cents were created by melting down older coins. Because of this, the planchets, or metal discs, were of varying quality, and the resulting coins frequently had streaky appearances. And as such, any high-quality examples from this year are very collectible.

This particular coin has an MS66 grade, indicating excellent condition and stunning beauty. It’s one of only two Indian Head Pennies from 1872 graded at this level. And perhaps more significantly, no examples of finer quality are known to exist.

In August 2007, the coin was put up for auction. One collector was willing to spend $126,500 to own a best-in-class coin.

SEE: 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Value

4. 1899 Indian Head Penny Red (PCGS MS68)

Between 2003 and 2019, this particular coin was offered for sale three times. It was created in 1899 and had an exceptional PCGS mint state grade of 68. This denotes “premium quality,” with a striking pattern that is clearly defined and no visible marks at normal magnification.

The existence of one or two coins of this caliber is a topic of debate among coin experts. Many people thought this was the only survivor, and many bidders shared this belief.

It was advertised as the “ultimate bronze Indian Head cent” when it was put up for sale in 2019. And it was worth $108,000 when the hammer dropped.

5. 1897 Indian Head Penny Deep Cameo ( PCGS PR67+)

This Indian Head Penny represents a so-called “deep cameo,” and independent coin-certifying organizations gave the grade. Additionally, it indicates that the raised portions of the design have thick “frosting.” That stands in contrast to the coin’s very appealing reflective fields.

This particular example was a proof coin that the PCGS graded 67+. In other words, it is a better-than-average strike with full mint luster and minimal imperfections.

Across all dates and colors, this is the only specimen of a deep cameo Indian Head Penny. Because of that, it is quite unique, and in March 2021, it was put up for auction and sold for $108,000.

Average Circulated and Uncirculated Values and Prices

The buying price is the amount a dealer will ask you to pay to buy the coin. The sell value is the amount you anticipate receiving from a dealer when you sell the coin. Every circulated price and value is based on the supposition that the date is legible and hasn’t completely worn off the coin’s surface. The precise grade of the coin and several other factors that affect its value will affect the actual offer you receive from a specific coin dealer. Original red or red-brown-colored uncirculated specimens are significantly more valuable.

Date & MintCirc. BuyCirc. SellUnc. BuyUnc. Sell
1864 No L on Ribbon$12.00$10.00$250.00$200.00
1864 L on Ribbon$80.00$55.00$460.00$330.00
1869 9 over 9*$250.00$140.00$1,000.00$700.00
1873 Open 3$34.00$21.00$300.00$230.00
1873 Closed 3$38.00$23.00$420.00$320.00
1873 Dbl LIBERTY*$450.00$360.00$10,200.00$8,000.00
1877 *$700.00$500.00$4,800.00$3,500.00
Date & MintCirc. BuyCirc. SellUnc. BuyUnc. Sell
1886 Type I$8.00$5.00$240.00$170.00
1886 Type II$8.50$5.00$390.00$280.00
1888 8 over 7*$4,000.00$3,500.00$35,000.00$30,000.00
Date & MintCirc. BuyCirc. SellUnc. BuyUnc. Sell
1908 S$80.00$40.00$290.00$230.00
1909 S *$410.00$250.00$1,000.00$800.00
CompleteDate-Mint Set$2,500.00$1,600.00$14,000.00$10,500.00
CompleteDate Set$2,100.00$1,300.00$12,500.00$9,500.00

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