Most Expensive Coins

Top 10 Most Valuable Indian Head Pennies Coins Worth Money

Top 10 Most Valuable Indian Head Pennies Coins Worth Money

Indian Head pennies, highly loved by collectors, are valued for their scarcity and historical significance. Designed by James B. Longacre, these coins depict a Lady Liberty adorned with a Native American headdress. If you collect pennies, you probably have each type or choose one over the others. Considering their production duration, the Indian Head cent is likely a favorite among collectors.

History of Indian Head Penneis

The Indian Head cent, minted from 1859 to 1909, was a one-cent coin designed by James Barton Longacre. Before this, the cent was larger and made of copper, but the discovery of gold in California led to price inflation. In 1857, the Mint reduced the size and changed the composition to copper-nickel, introducing the Flying Eagle cent. 

This design was soon replaced by the Indian Head cent in 1858. During the Civil War, cents were hoarded due to a shortage of nickel. In 1864, a slimmer cent of bronze alloy was authorized. The Indian Head cent remained popular until it was replaced by the Lincoln cent in 1909.

Indian Head Cent Beginnings

In the early 1850s, rising copper prices prompted the U.S. Mint to rethink the size and composition of its pennies. The large cents then in circulation were no longer practical. To address this, the Mint introduced the Flying Eagle Penny from 1856-1858. However, this new coin, made of less than 90% copper, faced immediate design issues. Mint Director James Ross Snowden proposed a change in design due to high relief and public dissatisfaction. Designs were submitted and approved, leading to the creation of the Indian Head cent.

The Design Indian Head Pennies

Designed by James Barton Longacre, the Indian Headcut was minted from 1859 to 1909. The obverse features an Indian head wearing a feather bonnet, with “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” around the edge and “LIBERTY” on the band. 

The reversal indicates “ONE CENT” within a laurel wreath. In the 1860 design, “ONE CENT” appears within an oak wreath, with three arrows under a ribbon. The design depicts Lady Liberty wearing a Native American headdress, though rumors of Longacre using his daughter as a model remain unconfirmed.

Composition and Production

From 1859 to 1864, Indian Head cents were made of 88% copper and 12% nickel. In 1864, their weight was reduced from 72 to 48 grains, and the composition changed to 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. Congress allowed other Mint facilities to produce the penny in 1906, just three years before production ceased. Initially, only the Philadelphia Mint was authorized to mint the one-cent coin and the five-cent nickel.

List of 10 Most Valuable Indian Head Pennies Coins Worth Money

 If you want to add to your collection, here are 10 of the most valuable Indian head pennies.

1. Double-Headed 1859 Indian Head Penny

In 1859, during the transition from the Flying Eagle cent to the Indian Head penny, a super rare double-headed Indian Head cent was accidentally minted. This unique coin, possibly created due to the overlapping of dies, was discovered in 2000 and sold for $195,500 in 2008. 

Double-headed and double-tailed coins are extremely rare errors, with only a few known to exist across all denominations. Finding such a coin can fetch a significant value due to its rarity.

2.1864 L on Ribbon Indian Head Cent

In 1864, a slight redesign of the Indian Head penny included the designer’s initial, “L,” on a ribbon. This rare proof coin, never circulated, is highly valued. Only around 20 proofs are estimated to exist, with one example selling for $161,000 in 2011.

3.1867 Indian Head Penny

The 1867 Indian Head Penny, minted in Philadelphia, is composed of 95% copper and 5% nickel. Weighing 4.67 grams each, most of these coins are reasonably priced. These were minted, with approximately 9,821,000 in good condition still around today. 

USA Coin Book Estimated Value of 1867 Indian Head Penny is $85 in Average Condition, in Uncirculated (MS+) Mint Condition can be $380 to $519 or more and the Proof Coins can be $409 or more.

4.1872 Indian Head Penny

The 1872 Indian Head penny, minted in Philadelphia, is composed of 95% copper and 5% tin. Weighing 3.11 grams each, most of these coins are reasonably priced. Like the 1877 coin, very few were minted, with approximately 200 in good condition still around today. If you own one, it’s worth a closer look. In 2007, one sold for $126,500 at Heritage Auctions,

5.1877 Indian Head Penny

The 1877 Indian Head penny is highly sought after for its rarity and value. Minted in Philadelphia, these coins often fetch high prices at auctions. With over 852,000 coins struck, it’s surprising that this year saw one of the lowest mintages for this type of penny, making it one of the rarest varieties to collect. Few survive today, especially in good condition. One in excellent shape sold for $149,500 in 2007.

6.1897 Indian Head Penny

The 1897 Indian Head penny, minted in Philadelphia, is valued for its rarity, with fewer than 51 million produced that year. Prices range from $45 to $169, but some have sold for much higher amounts at auctions.

7.1899 Indian Head Cent – MS68

The 1899 Indian Head Cent is usually not considered highly valuable, minted in Philadelphia without a mint mark. It’s rated MS68, meaning it’s the best-preserved coin of its kind. Around 53,600,000 were produced that year. 

Condition matters a lot in coin value, so if you have a well-preserved Indian Head Penny, it’s likely valuable. This specific coin sold for $108,000 in 2019 at Heritage Auctions,

8.1900 Gold Indian Cent

The 1900 gold Indian Head penny, like the 1905 version, is a rare mistake worth a lot of money. There are three known from 1900 among the five gold Indian Head pennies. If you find one, it’s worth more than its weight in gold. One sold for $141,000 in 2014.

9.1905 Gold Indian Cent

There are five known Indian Head cents struck on gold planchets from the early 1900s. It’s unclear if these were mistakes or intentional collector coins. A mint worker inadvertently used gold planchets in the coin press, creating these extremely rare coins. One example, sold in 2010, fetched $253,000 despite a slightly off-center strike.

10.1909-S Indian Head Penny

The 1909-S Indian Head Penny is exceptionally rare because it was minted in San Francisco during the transition to the new Lincoln Center. Most Indian Head Pennies lack a mint mark, but those from San Francisco have an “S” mark. In 2006, one in excellent condition sold for $97,750 at Heritage Auctions,

What are the key factors that determine the most valuable Indian Head pennies?

The value of Indian Head pennies is determined by factors such as the year of minting, mint mark, condition, and rarity. Certain years and mint marks have lower mintages, making them scarcer and more valuable. Higher grades, like uncirculated or proof, also increase a coin’s worth. Unique errors or varieties can further enhance their value.

Which years of Indian Head pennies are the most valuable?

Certain years of Indian Head pennies stand out for their value:

  • The 1877 penny is highly sought after due to its low mintage, making it one of the most valuable.
  • The 1909-S, the final year of the Indian Head penny, is also valuable because of its low mintage and high demand.
  • The 1864 L (with the designer’s initial “L” on the ribbon) is relatively rare and marks a transition in the coin’s composition.

Also Read – Top 10 Most Valuable Silver Dollars


If you’re new or older to collecting coins, you likely have a few rare pennies among your discoveries! Above are some of the most valuable collectible pennies are so-called Indian head pennies. While Indian Head pennies all feature side profiles of Native Americans, their composition, value, and other characteristics can vary significantly.


1. When Was the Indian Head Cent Minted?

The Indian Head cent was first minted in 1859 for general commerce. When issued for circulation, Longacre made slight changes to sharpen details. In 1860, the reverse side was altered to feature a narrow shield and oak wreath.

2. Where Was the Indian Head Penny Minted?

The Indian Head penny was predominantly minted at the Philadelphia Mint. During the Civil War, production slowed due to material shortages and hoarding by citizens uncertain about the war’s outcome. After the war, minting resumed and the Indian Head penny continued to circulate.

3. What Materials Were Used To Make the Indian Head Pennies?

Indian Head pennies were initially made from a mixture of 88% copper and 12% nickel from 1859 to 1864. Later, from 1864 to 1909, they were crafted with 95% copper and an alloy of 5% tin and zinc. This adjustment was due to dwindling nickel supplies during and after the Civil War, prompting a change in materials to compensate. As a result, the coin primarily consisted of copper. Production scaled back after the war as hoarding ceased, and many Indian Head pennies were melted down by the Mint for recoinage.

4. How much can the most valuable Indian Head pennies be worth?

The most valuable Indian Head pennies, such as those from 1877 and 1909-S, can be worth thousands of dollars, especially in higher grades. For example, an 1877 Indian Head penny in uncirculated condition can fetch over $10,000 at auction. The exact value depends on the coin’s condition, with proof versions and those in mint state commanding the highest prices.

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