Good Head on Your Penny

You’ve probably heard that Indian Head pennies are great collectibles and worth some good money. And that’s true – to a degree. The Indian Head is popular because of its “good Looks”, not because of its rarity. The obverse of the pretty little copper coin has a lovely Indian princess in a feathers headdress. The word “LIBERTY” is on her headband. Many citizens believe that the portrait on the front of the coin represented Liberty wearing an Indian headdress, rather than an actual Indian.

   James Barton Longacre. Designer of the Indian Head Penny.

Legend has it that the model for the Indian Head cent was the designer’s daughter Sarah. The story said that Sarah was present when an Indian delegation was visiting her father’s office. One of the chiefs placed a war bonnet on the girl’s head and that became the inspiration for her father’s design of the coin.

Now, Indian Head pennies are as common as clover. They were minted for half a century starting in 1859… and over 1.8 billion Indian Head cents were produced in all before they were replaced by the Lincoln cent in 1909. That’s a lot of copper!

                           1877 Indian Head Penny

Each year they were in production, the U.S. mint turned out between 8 million and       49 million coins! But in 1877…Well let’s just say it was a bad year for pennies and a good year for collectors. Less than 1 million Indian Head pennies were minted in 1877. That makes ‘em rare…and valuable. An 1877 coin with a good “head” on its shoulders can sell for close to $1,000!                                

*This story is an excerpt, courtesy of: Betcha Didn’t Know That! 101 Antiques and Collectibles Trivia Tips That Can Make You Rich, Famous and the Hit of the Party, Volume One, by Leon Castner and Brian Kastens   –

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