Indian Head Cents, 1859-1909

Indian Head Cents, 1859-1909

The Indian Head Cent was designed by James B. Longacre and struck in copper-nickel alloy from 1859 to 1864. Because of the light color of these coins, they were often called white cents. During the Civil War, increasing difficulties in obtaining nickel caused the abandonment of the copper-nickel cent in favor of a cent struck in a bronze composition consisting of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. Indian Head Cents were minted in this composition from 1864 through 1909.

1859 Indian, Laurel Wreath Type
1860-1864 Indian, Oak Wreath, Copper-Nickel Type
1864-1909 Indian, Bronze Type

As a series, Indian Head pennies are among the most popular and widely collected U.S. coins, mainly due to the large number of most later-date pieces which are available to collectors of modest means. For the advanced collector, there are several challenging aspects to the series, including three overdate issues (1865/4, 1867 over small 67, and the well known 1869/8), three issues which have doubled dates or lettering (1859 and 1894 doubled dates, and 1873 closed 3 with doubled Liberty), the first branch-mint cent issue (1908-S), and the smallest mintage for a regular-issue small cent (1909-S).

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