How Much is an Indian Head Penny Worth? (Price Chart)

The value of an Indian penny will depend on its condition, the year of minting, and the mint mark. This coin type is one of the first pieces ever produced, mainly in the Philadelphia mint. Since these pieces were minted from 1859 to 1909 and most spent years in circulation, it is hard to find those in the mint state.

Even though the US Mint has created many other pennies over time, the Indian head design is still among the most famous American coins. Collectors appreciate its history and connection with the time before the Civil War. Since some can be pretty expensive, you should be careful when finding one and have it checked thoroughly.

Indian Penny History

The Indian head penny was practically the first penny minted after large cents. Since the US government didn’t allow any other metal except silver and gold as legal tender, it was impossible to use this coin for solving government payments, including taxes.

Indian penny copper-nickel composite

Face value 1 cent ($0.01)
Compound 88% copper plus 12% nickel
Coin weight 0.16473 ounces (4.67 g)
Coin diameter 0.75 inches (19.05 mm)
Edge Plain

In the 1850s, the US Mint decided to reduce the penny size and composition due to copper price fluctuations. The first attempt was Flying eagle penny, well known for numerous design problems. Therefore, the Indian head penny appeared as an ideal solution in 1859.

Indian penny bronze composite

Face value 1 cent ($0.01)
Compound 95% copper, plus 5% tin and zinc
Coin weight 0.10970 ounces (3.11 g)
Coin diameter 0.75 inches (19.05 mm)
Edge Plain

US Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre designed the coin that initially contained 88% copper and 12% nickel. It was changed in 1865, and the new variation was lighter and made of 95% copper.

Indian penny value by USA Coin Book

Year Quality Mintage
G VG F VF EF AU MS 60 MS 63 PR 63
Copper-nickel laurel wreath reverse without shield
1859 $16 $22 $27 $61 $118 $222 $306 $642 $1,789 36,400,000
Copper-nickel penny with a oak wreath and shield
1860 $14 $17 $22 $38 $74 $109 $200 $278 $1,106 20,566,000
1861 $23 $38 $50 $65 $118 $193 $250 $362 $1,671 10,100,000
1862 $13 $17 $22 $30 $54 $81 $118 $222 $1,003 28,075,000
1863 $13 $17 $22 $30 $54 $81 $118 $222 $1,003 49,840,000
1864 $22 $33 $44 $61 $109 $165 $222 $334 $1,003 13,740,000
Bronze composite penny
1864 $16 $22 $27 $50 $77 $100 $128 $165 $545 39,233,714
1865 $13 $16 $22 $30 $50 $72 $100 $165 $495 35,429,286
1866 $54 $72 $89 $109 $212 $278 $321 $408 $443 9,826,500
1867 $54 $77 $100 $145 $252 $306 $334 $443 $443 9,821,000
1868 $50 $54 $77 $137 $184 $236 $278 $400 $416 10,266,500
1869 $91 $131 $257 $372 $494 $593 $642 $765 $408 6,420,000
1870 $89 $109 $236 $348 $443 $545 $593 $1,003 $469 5,275,000
1871 $144 $199 $362 $495 $616 $703 $857 $1,056 $545 3,929,500
1872 $100 $156 $334 $416 $545 $703 $827 $118 $443 4,042,000
1873 $27 $38 $72 $137 $200 $257 $469 $593 $294 11,676,500
1874 $22 $27 $50 $72 $109 $165 $250 $278 $278 14,187,500
1875 $23 $38 $65 $81 $131 $172 $257 $286 $278 13,528,000
1876 $38 $44 $77 $145 $250 $267 $334 $408 $278 7,944,000
1877 $1,003 $1,196 $1,722 $2,222 $2,744 $3,408 $4,229 $5,002 $2,890 852,500
1878 $38 $50 $65 $118 $222 $306 $362 $408 $257 5,799,850
1879 $8.91 $13 $22 $44 $77 $89 $100 $156 $165 16,228,000
1880 $5.56 $7.69 $9.78 $13 $33 $65 $89 $144 $165 38,961,000
1881 $5.56 $6.48 $8.91 $12 $27 $38 $65 $100 $165 39,208,000
1882 $5.56 $6.48 $8.91 $12 $27 $38 $65 $100 $165 38,578,000
1883 $5.56 $6.48 $8.91 $12 $27 $38 $65 $100 $165 45,591,500
1884 $6.05 $7.69 $11 $16 $30 $44 $81 $131 $165 23,257,800
1885 $8.91 $9.78 $16 $33 $72 $89 $118 $222 $165 11,761,594
1886 type 1 $6.48 $8.91 $22 $54 $156 $193 $222 $278 $165 17,650,000
1886 type 2 $8.33 $13 $27 $81 $193 $236 $362 $545 $389
1887 $3.22 $4.41 $5.56 $8.91 $20 $30 $61 $89 $165 45,223,523
1888 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $9.39 $23 $30 $72 $137 $165 37,489,832
1889 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $7.69 $20 $30 $65 $89 $165 48,866,025
1890 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $7.69 $17 $30 $65 $89 $165 57,180,114
1891 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $7.69 $17 $30 $65 $89 $165 47,070,000
1892 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $8.91 $23 $30 $65 $89 $165 37,647,087
1893 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $8.91 $22 $30 $65 $89 $165 46,640,000
1894 $5.56 $6.48 $13 $20 $54 $72 $89 $128 $165 16,749,500
1895 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $8.91 $16 $27 $44 $72 $172 38,341,574
1896 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $8.91 $16 $27 $44 $72 $165 39,055,431
1897 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $8.91 $16 $27 $44 $72 $165 50,464,392
1898 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $8.91 $16 $27 $44 $72 $165 49,821,284
1899 $3.22 $3.79 $5.56 $8.91 $16 $27 $44 $72 $165 53,598,000
1900 $2.22 $3.22 $5.01 $6.48 $11 $22 $41 $61 $156 66,831,502
1901 $2.22 $3.22 $5.01 $6.48 $11 $22 $41 $61 $156 79,609,158
1902 $2.22 $3.22 $5.01 $6.48 $11 $22 $41 $61 $156 87,374,704
1903 $2.22 $3.22 $5.01 $6.48 $11 $22 $41 $61 $156 85,092,703
1904 $2.22 $3.22 $5.01 $6.48 $11 $22 $41 $61 $156 61,326,198
1905 $2.22 $3.22 $5.01 $6.48 $11 $22 $41 $61 $156 80,717,011
1906 $2.22 $3.22 $5.01 $6.48 $11 $22 $41 $61 $156 96,020,530
1907 $2.22 $3.22 $5.01 $6.48 $11 $22 $41 $61 $156 108,137,143
1908 $2.22 $3.22 $5.01 $6.48 $11 $22 $41 $61 $156 32,326,367
1908 S $100 $109 $137 $158 $193 $278 $321 $443 / 1,115,000
1909 $13 $16 $19 $22 $27 $33 $50 $72 $156 14,368,470

 

Indian Penny Rarities and Key Dates

Indian Penny Rarities and Key Dates

1864 Indian head penny

The US Mint gave up using nickel and changed Indian head pennies’ composition in 1864. Two Indian head penny types were made that year:

  • More than 39 million deep orange bronze pieces
  • Almost 14 million silverish coins minted of copper and nickel

You can quickly recognize circulated bronze coins thanks to their brown patina, while the copper-nickel specimens retain silverish color. Nowadays, older copper-nickel coins are worth 30% more than those made of bronze.

1864 Indian head penny without L on a ribbon

You can find two bronze Indian head penny varieties minted this year. One has the pointed, while another type has the more rounded bust tip. You should look for the letter L on a plain ribbon tail behind the Indian’s neck.

If you find this initial, your coin will be worth almost four times more than the one without the letter. While the 1864 coin without L typically costs $16  to $545, the price of the variety with L will be up to $9,864 for the piece in the highest grade.

1869 Indian head penny 69 over 69

Since some dies had a production problem, you can find coins minted this year with doubled last two numbers in the date. An average price for such a coin is $137 to $1,196, depending on its quality.

1873 Indian head penny with doubled Liberty

Thanks to a production error, you can find a rare doubled die variety noticeable on the LIBERTY word written along with the headband. Such a coin is valuable regardless of grade. Uncirculated pieces will reach an impressive $8,304 to $14,753.

1873 Indian head penny with open 3 or closed 3

Thanks to using two different varieties of the number 3 during engraving, you can notice two types of the date on coins minted in 1873. One variety has a more open 3 in the date while another has a closed 3, but those variations won’t affect the coin price.

1877 Indian head penny

Even though there are no errors among coins minted this year, all mintage is considered a key date. Since the US Mint produced only 852,500 coins, they are rare and the most valuable in the entire series.

1886 Indian head penny type 1 and 2

Thanks to a change in production, the US Mint produced two different penny types this year. Type 1 has the aligning last letter in AMERICA and the lower curl on the Indian bust. In type 2, this aligning is positioned more to the right, making it rarer and at least 30, sometimes even up to 50% more expensive.

1888 Indian head penny with last 8 over 7

It seems that an 1887 Indian head cent die was reused in 1888, so you can find a few coins with the last number 8 in the date over 7. This specimen is scarce and worth $1,286 to $38,120, depending on its grade.

1909 S Indian head penny

Even though the Lincoln cent replaced the Indian head penny this year, the San Francisco mint produced almost 300,000 of these coins. Such a low mintage makes 1909 Indian head pennies a key date in the series. Each piece is worth $593 to $1,286, depending on its condition.

 

Summary

One century old Indian head penny is popular among collectors primarily because of its historical significance. The coin production started just before the Civil War, so most Americans consider this piece a symbol and valuable part of American history.

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