Whenever you find an old coin in a coin roll, in your Grandma’s attic, or literally, anywhere, we bet the first thing that comes to your mind is – ‘I wonder how much this coin is worth!’
Well, if the coin you found was an 1864 Indian Head penny, you’re at the right place. In this post, we’ll discuss the features, grading, and current value of this special penny. Let’s begin!
What Is 1864 Indian Head Penny?
Indian Head pennies are the US cent coins that ran from 1859 to 1909. While most of the 1800s cents are deemed valuable, especially in MS and Proof grades, some of the key dates in the Indian Head penny series are 1909-S, 1821, 1864 (With L), and 1873 (Double Liberty).
The total mintage of the 1864 Indian Head penny was 39,233,714 in Bronze and 370 in Copper-Nickel planchets.
Which Mints Made 1864 Indian Head Penny?
The Philadelphia Mint:
Only the maint mint at Philadelphia was responsible for minting Indian Head pennies in the year 1864. Only the final two years of Indian Head cents mintage in 1908 and 1909 were done in both Philadelphia Mint and San Fransisco Mint.
Features of 1864 Indian Head Penny
Indian Head Penny was designed by James Barton Longacre, the chief engraver at the Philadelphia mint at the time. He is also known for his Flying Eagle cents and Shield nickels.
The obverse of Indian Head pennies was designed to feature a Liberty with a headdress. Interestingly, some legends say that the Liberty’s feature on Indian Head pennies was based on the engraver’s daughter, Sarah.
What makes some Indian Head pennies special is the minuscule ‘L’ mark on the obverse side, right behind the Liberty’s hair on the neck.
The ‘L’ is for Longacre, as in the last name of the designer. Look for the marking around the area where the ribbon crosses the hair. A magnifying glass can definitely help!
During the early few years of Indian Head penny mintage, the reverse side of the design featured a laurel wreath. In 1860, the reverse was redesigned to feature an oak wreath and a shield circumscribing the ‘ONE CENT’.
While Indian Head pennies before 1864 had a total mass of 4.67 gm, in 1864 and onwards, Indian head pennies weighed 3.11 gm. Edges of 1864 Indian Head pennies are plain and have a diameter of 19.05 mm.
Likewise, the composition of these pennies was changed to 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc alloy in 1864. Before 1864, these pennies were copper-nickel with 88% copper and 12% nickel.
Given the shortage of nickel due to the American Civil War, The Coinage Act of 1864 authorized thinner bronze Indian Head pennies with smaller mass. This remarkable change in the composition is also one of the reasons why 1864 Indian Head pennies are deemed valuable.
Having said that, limited pieces of copper-nickel 1864 Indian Head pennies were also minted but were only bought by and circulated among speculators. These coins are very rare and sell much higher than bronze Indian Head pennies, which are the most common ones.
The mint mark on an Indian Head penny is visible right below the wreath on the reverse side. No marking can be witnessed for coins minted in the Philadelphia Mint, and 1864 pennies were only minted at this minting facility.
Reasons For Minting 1864 Indian Head Penny
In the Flying Eagle cents produced in 1857 and 1858, it wasn’t easy to bring out the high points fully in both the directions in copper-nickel planchets.
Therefore, Indian Head Pennies with Liberty on the front and four different types of wreaths on the reverse were proposed as the alternative to Flying Eagle cents. The laurel wreath on the reverse was chosen among these designs, and the minting of Indian Head cents began in 1859.
While the design, composition, and thickness changed in the later years, 1864 Indian Head pennies were simply the continuation of this series. Lincoln cents replaced the Indian Head cent series in 1909.
What Factors Influence The Value of 1864 Indian Head Penny?
Errors and Rarities:
You need to look for two major errors in your 1864 Indian Head penny – 1864-L Re-punched Date (RPD) and Doubled Die Obverse (DDO). In 2021, MS66BN RPD was sold for $4,770, and an MS62 DDO coin was auctioned for $1,425 in 2015 on eBay.
As for the rarities, 1864-L is one of the rarest Indian Head cents minted in the series and are worth slightly more.
Generally, RD coins are valued more than RB coins, followed by BN coins. The price difference is evident in the price tables in the value section below.
- Uncirculated (MS):
No signs of wear should be evident on an uncirculated 1864 Indian Head penny. The mint luster should be evident.
While the luster is not as detectable as in silver and gold coins, you should still notice a continuous shine from rim to the rim when you reflect a light source on an uncirculated Indian Head penny.
Uncirculated grade pennies are considered premium coins and thus demand higher worth. Remember that the change in texture or dullness in high points indicates circulation.
Also, the copper alloy planchets in 1864 Indian Head pennies will tone to reddish and brownish hues over the years. Therefore, uncirculated grades in BN and RB are also common and authentic.
- Extremely Fine (XF):
Despite being well-preserved, Extremely Fine Indian Head pennies lack the mint-grade copper luster. The circulation wears, though minimal, are also visible, especially at the high points of the coin.
The color of an XF 1864 Indian Head penny will have changed to a light brown, and the flattening and loss of finer texture are evident on the tips of the headgear and on the top portion of hair.
However, the hair strands are distinct in these coins. On the reverse side, the horizontal lines on the shield should still be visible, and the leaves on the wreath are still visible. These coins are well preserved yet are a lot cheaper than MS grades, therefore catching the attention of many collectors.
- Very Fine (VF):
In Very Fine coins, you shall see major signs of wear. For instance, the text ‘LIBERTY’ becomes relatively faded on the obverse side. Nevertheless, the hairline separation is intact, and so are the details on the base of the headgear.
On the reverse side, you might see some merging on the vertical lines on the shield. However, they should still seem somewhat distinct.
So is the case for wreath leaves – while flattening is evident on these leaves, some structural integrity should remain. The major structural details are well-preserved in a VF Indian Head coin.
- Good (G):
In a Good graded 1864 Indian Head penny, the details on the feathers, the text on the headgear, and the hair details are either entirely worn or faintly visible. Most probably, only the outer structure is visible on the coin’s obverse side.
On the reverse side, the vertical lines on the shield are now completely merged. The leaves on the wreath have merged, and only the outer lining of the wreath and bow remains.
You might also notice a slight merging of the text edges to the background on both sides of the coin. The good grade is the most affordable grade and is mostly traded in their bullion values instead.
Value of 1864 Indian Head Penny
While the face value of 1864 Indian Head Penny is $0.1, its market worth is determined by plenty of factors that we’ve discussed above.
In this section, we’ve curated three tables for circulated, uncirculated, and proof 1864 coins for your ease. PCGS official site and various transactional sites were taken as references, and these values are close to the market values as of 23rd April 2022.
|Indian Head Penny||Good (G-6)||Very Fine (VF-20)||Extremely Fine (XF-40)||About Uncirculated (AU-50)|
|1864 (L on Ribbon)||$70||$175||$285||$350|
|Indian Head Penny||MS60||MS63||MS64||MS65||MS66||MS67||MS67+|
|1864 (L on Ribbon)||BN||$400||$500||$825||$1,275||$4,250||N/A||N/A|
|Indian Head Penny||PR63||PR64||PR65||PR65+||PR66||PR66+||PR67|
|1864CN – Proof||$1,200||$1,500||$2,250||$2,500||$5,000||N/A||$20,000|
|1864CN – CAM||$1,000||$2,000||$2,500||$3,000||$6,000||$12,000||$12,000|
We hope we could provide you with the information you were seeking regarding 1864 Indian Head cent in this post.
If your coin is ungraded and it looks like it falls on higher MS/PR grades, it is definitely worth getting graded from a certified coin grading company. Moreover, if you’ve recently bought or sold an 1864 Indian Head, please keep us updated. We’re all ears!