Pennies seem worthless, right? Like what in the world can you purchase for a penny? Penny is a coin that is worth one cent! Or maybe you aren’t informed well. What if we tell you that for some penny coins, you can easily buy a small apartment for instance?
No, we aren’t joking, there are literally penny coins that are estimated to be worth a few hundred thousand dollars. Now, we do believe that many of you will stop reading and start breaking your piggy bank in search of a golden grail penny coin, but please finish reading this article first.
Not all types of pennies are worth six-figure premium prices. One of those penny coins is the Indian Head penny or Lincoln penny. A very old and rare coin, which means you’ll have a hard time finding it in your spear change. But don’t despair not all is lost.
If you are eager to learn more about the most valuable Indian Head penny, you are at the right place. In this handy guide, you’ll find all the vital information you need to start collecting old penny coins.
If You Are In A Hurry Read This Quick Summary
There is a significant difference between the prices of uncirculated and circulated coins. For instance, an 1859 Indian Head Penny in circulated condition is estimated to be worth between $215 and $425, while those in mint state are $32,500. Now you can see how the grade and condition affect the price.
However, a lot of circulated coins are still in good condition and suitable as collecting examples. Here is the list of the top 6 common coins worth investing in:
- 1909-S Indian Head Penny 1C VF25 PCGS – $373
- 1872 Indian Head Penny 1C MS64 RB PCGS – $920
- 1877 Indian Head Penny 1C VF25 PCGS – $1,086
- 1882 Indian Head Penny 1C MS65+ RD PCGS – $1,560
- 1900 Indian Head Penny 1C MS66 RD PCGS – $1,955
- 1859 Indian Head Penny 1C MS65 PCGS.CAC – $2,760
Why Is Indian Head Penny Valuable?
There are many reasons why Indian Head penny coins are special to collectors. The first thing is their age, and with that, the rarity. Did you know that the first Indian Head penny was minted in 1859? That was 164 years ago! Imagine how would you feel as a coin collector to own such an old piece with significant historical importance.
Even though these coins were designed to last (which is clearly evident today), there aren’t many of them available for collecting, which makes them rare.
Now, everything that pays tribute to Native Americans is a very valuable collectible item. The Indian Head Penny is a symbol of America’s westward expansion. There is a whole collecting branch of people who only collect artifacts and items related to Native American history.
Lastly, there is a legend that says the Indian Head Penny and the Wheat Penny are considered lucky coins. Ancient civilizations believed that metal coins, like copper pennies, were gifts from gods and protected people from evil.
Price Guide For Common Indian Head Penny Coins
A fun fact is that the first coin authorized as an official currency was the penny from 1792. It was authorized by George Washington. When it comes to coin collecting, value and rarity are closely linked.
Some penny coins minted between 1859 and 1909 were fairly rare from the start, by this, we mean the time of production. On the other hand, some are rare now since so few survived the tool of time, especially in good condition. Moreover, a few of the rarest Indian Head pennies are minting mistakes.
In this list, you’ll be able to see some of the most valuable Indian Head Penny coins according to the last recorded selling prices.
Current prices of collectible Indian Head pennies on the coin market
The Main Features Of Indian Head Penny Coins
Indian Head penny design replaced the Flying Eagle penny design in 1859. These pennies are one of the most popular coins amongst coin collectors. The reason is a wide variety of minting years that allows you to make a large collection of many different yet the same coins. They are also collected by mint marks.
Even though the official name of the coin is Indian Head Penny, in reality, the obverse side of the coin features a Caucasian Lady Liberty. She is wearing a Native American headpiece that was traditionally worn by Native American men of a certain status.
This use of a Native American Liberty motif is iconic due to the fact that this coin was produced during an era when Native Americans had lost their ancestral lands. While these coins were in mint they were relocated to reservations, some still live there today.
The Indian Head penny was first minted as a pattern coin in 1858 and it was officially released in 1859. This first minting year featured a laurel wreath on the reverse side. Just a year later, in 1860, the laurel wreath was replaced with an oak wreath and shield.
Also, from 1859 until 1864, these coins were made of a mixture of copper-nickel. However, in 1864, they switched to bronze-copper composition and reduced the weight of the Indian Head penny.
Does the type of patina affect the price of a penny?
The patina on copper coins is inevitable. Every penny has a high copper content (95%), and due to that they are available in three different varieties of patina. Those are – BN (brown), RB (red-brown), and RD (red).
Each type of patina is more complex than the previous one. The more complex the patina is the higher the price.
The BN patina is the most common one. Copper goes darker in color with age, especially when it is in extensive use. However, some pennies with this type of patina have not been circulated, yet they are still brown, some even feature a greenish or bluish shade. This patina is the least valuable one.
An RB pattina is a very attractive combination to collectors, and very valuable. In general, the basic color is brown with a reddish shade, which comes from freshly minted copper. Patina like this occurs as a result of environmental influence. These coins weren’t exposed to humidity and oxygen, or only in small amounts.
If you see a copper coin with RD patina that means only one thing – they are freshly minted. These coins are the most valuable and expensive ones due to their rarity since it is very difficult to maintain coins in intact condition. The truth is that environmental conditions can’t be stopped, and they will affect the color even when it is not in circulation.
How To Identify Rare Pennies Worth Money?
As you may notice some pennies are worth a lot of money, we are talking about six-figure price tags. The good news is that there are still plenty of undiscovered valuable pennies that are probably worth less, yet they can still earn you a nice amount of money.
So, how do you find a penny like that? Does a penny need to feature an error to be extremely valuable? How do I recognize them? Here are a few tips that will help you spot a rare and valuable penny:
- Look for coins in the best condition – We all know that coins in great shape fetch premium prices. However, sometimes a particular coin is so old that it simply can’t be in mint condition, so in that way look for the best in the worst. If an old penny still has some shine, grab it without thinking, they are pretty rare and will be worth something for sure.
- Error coins – If you come across a penny with a minting error, in most cases they will sell for a higher price tag. Error coins are very unique, rare, and prized among collectors.
- Look for low mintage years – The US Mint releases a certain number of coins every year. Sometimes these numbers are high sometimes low. Look for 1877, 1908-S, and 1909-S pennies.
- Pay attention to patina – Copper coins with red patina are extremely rare and valuable so always pay attention to that. These pennies have around 95% copper, except the series from 1859 until 1860, which has 88% copper.
Keep in mind that coin prices change all the time in reaction to market conditions. So if your coin, or an error coin is not valuable today, or it is barely valuable, don’t discard it. These have a tendency to be worth a fortune tomorrow or in a few months, or years.
Where Can You Trade Valuable Indian Head Penny?
When it comes to collecting coins like pennies, quarters, or half-dollars a great thing is that you can even obtain a valuable one directly from circulation. These coins are still used in carwash, laundrymats, vending machines, and jukeboxes. So next time you get your sprae change back carefully inspect them.
Unfortunately, older coin varieties can’t be found in a pocket change, so you need to look for them elsewhere. There are two options you can consider – offline trade or online trade.
Offline trade includes visiting pawn shops, antique shops, numismatic shops, shows, museums, and other specialized places that do trading in person.
When you consider online trading you must do thorough research to find reliable sources. You can either choose to work with reliable coin dealers or auction houses. This is the only way to avoid any unpleasant situation.
A lot of old coins are replicated, and these can be hard to differentiate from the real ones without the help of a professional grader. Here is the list of sources we recommend – Heritage Auctions, PCGS, Stack’s Bowers, Coins For Sale, or Littleton Coin Company.
In case you wish to sell your coin but don’t know for what price, before taking it to a professional grader, make sure you visit web platforms like eBay, Etsy, and LiveAuctioneers. Here you can find all important information like price range, demand, and supply.
However, these are not the best places to buy a valuable coin, due to the fact a lot of replicas end up listed here. Make a habit of looking for feedback, comments, or anything else that can help you find out if the seller is reliable.
Which mint marks can be found on Indian Head pennies?
Indian Head pennies were produced in Philadelphia (coins do not have mint marks), and San Francisco (coins with S mint marks).
However, only series from 1908 and 1909 were minted in San Francisco. The mint mark is pretty rare and it is located on the reverse side of the coin, below the wreath.
How to prevent patina from changing?
The perfect place for pennies will be one with a stable and controlled climate. Penny collectors, well at least those serious ones, keep their coins in certified capsules with climate control options that help preserve patina in the best possible condition.
For pennies with RD or RB patina environmental conditions are very harmful, especially humidity and oxidation! They will react with the copper and make it change color into a darker shade. You can also invest in a non-reactive coin album.
Don’t forget that the plastic cases you get when you buy a coin are not air-tight! Never keep our coins in them! t Immediately transfer them into climate-controlled capsules or non-reactive coin albums.
Are there different metal compositions of Indian Head pennies?
Yes. There were pennies that were called white cents. Those are Flying Eagle and Indian head penneis which were minted from 1856 until 1864. They got the name white due to the lower content of copper so they appear more silver than regular pennies. Their metal composition is 88% copper and 12% nickel. However, most pennies are made from 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc used for making core. This combination has been in use since 1864.
What year Indian Head penny is most valuable?
As a general rule, the 1877 Indian Head pennies are the most valuable ones on the market today, due to a low mintage. Many collectors are actively seeking out these coins, even those in bad condition are sought-after and will cost a lot of money.
However, rare pennies with notable errors will fetch a premium price as well no matter the mintage volume or minting year.
Indian Head Penny Is Truly A Lucky Coin
Almost every coin collector started his journey by collecting pennies or quarters. This is logical considering these could be found in abundance in both circulation and online markets. However, the situation is totally different nowadays.
Logically, not all pennies are worth more than their face value, however, some specimens can be worth as much as an average house. So, how can you tell which Indian Head penny is worth investing in? Start with minting errors or anything out of the ordinary. Look for the rare minting years like 1877 and 1872, as well as 1909-S pennies.
The truth is that any Indian Head penny is worth something considering how old they are, the question is how much. You’ll find that when you take it to a professional grader.
Hopefully, this article answered some of the questions and helped you figure out how to handle your precious penny coins. In case you know some information that we didn’t mention here, please do not hesitate to share your opinions and advice in the comment section below. Happy hunting!