What is the value of the Indian head cent in your pocket? Although long forgotten, these old coins still have value, especially in uncirculated conditions. However, selling your Indian head cents is still a great deal because of their high level of copper content. The key is to have the best specimen of a pristine coin that your nearest collector will find irresistible.
The 1901 Indian head penny is a classic, century-old American coin designed by James Longacre in 1901. The 1901 head is a late series of the Indian head penny because it came only eight years before the introduction of the Lincoln penny. It is 95% Copper and 5% Tin and Zinc.
Here we unravel an in-depth description of the 1901 Indian head coin, its key features, and fun facts. You’ll also discover how much value the Indian head is, and frequently asked questions from both coin collectors and numismatic enthusiasts.
About the 1901 Indian Head Penny
The 1901 Indian head is one of the popular American cents minted between 1859-1909. It features a female figure popularly known as “Miss Liberty” on its obverse side. The coin’s successor was the Lincoln wheat penny that came into operation from 1909 onwards.
History of the 1901 Indian Head Penny
The Indian head coin traced its roots to 1857 when the rising cost of copper made it difficult to produce copper coins. The then-mint director, James Snowden, declared that the Mint incurred many expenses in producing copper coins.
As a result, production of the half-cent coins stopped while the size and weight of the pennies in circulation reduced.
The Mint introduced a new cent coin that featured a flying eagle on the obverse side during the same year.
However, due to complications in production, the flying eagle only exchanged hands for two years, with slightly about 2000 specimens produced.
It led to the introduction of the 19mm diameter Indian head cent consisting of Copper and Nickel. Further improvements led to the lighter version weighing 3.11 grams and made of both Copper and Tin.
James Longacre designed the Indian head penny in 1901, borrowing inspiration from her daughter Sarah who was the symbolic “Miss Liberty” on the coin’s obverse. Previously, Longacre served as the chief engraver for the US mint between 1844-1869.
Which US Mints Struck the 1901 Head Penny
The main Mint in Philadelphia produced the Indian head penny between 1859-1909. But, unfortunately, the Mint only produced 79,611,143 specimens of the coin.
Reason for Minting
The US mint introduced the Indian head out of necessity to regulate the dwindling level and high cost of copper during the era of civil wars. Previously, American cents were bigger, heavier, but this came to an end with the Flying eagle cents that were lighter and smaller.
However, the flying eagle coin couldn’t last long because the nickel component was too hard for minting. It led to a new design by James Longacre, who introduced the classic Indian head cent in 1901. Minting of the coin continued for half a century until the Lincoln penny replaced it as well.
Features of the 1901 Indian Head penny
The Indian head penny has classic features that set it apart from other coins ever used. Here is a look at the main features of the coin.
The coin’s portrait is the symbolic “Miss Liberty,” which appears on other Indian head coin series.
The obverse design of the 1901 Indian head features the portrait of Liberty facing left. She wears an Indian headdress that has a band around it. On the band is an inscription with the word “Liberty.”
Some experts believe the word “Indian head” is misplaced since the liberty figure on the coin is not an Indian-American but an American.
The words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” appear as curved text encircling Miss Liberty.
Slightly below her neck is the coin’s year of minting written as “1901.”
The reverse of the Indian head cent features a wreath containing oak leaves and a union shield directly above the wreath. The union shield appears on the topmost part of the coin. A bundle of arrows also appears below the oak wreath. Additionally, the coin’s value is written at the center of the wreath as “ONE CENT.”
Slogans on the Indian Head Penny
The 1901 Indian head has one main slogan, “LIBERTY.” Similar to other coin series, the word “Liberty” is a slogan that highlights universal freedom prevailing in the United States of America. It is also a strong value adopted and accepted throughout the nation.
The Indian head bears no mintmark since it was produced at the main Mint in Philadelphia.
Weight and Dimensions
The coin weighs 9.11 grams and has a diameter of 19.05 mm.
The Indian head of 1901 contains 95% Copper, while the remaining 5% constitutes an alloy of Zinc and Tin. It is also the standard composition for all Indian head cents produced after 1964.
Value of the Indian Head Penny
The 1901 Indian head cent is a common coin circulation, thanks to the huge mintage by the main minting bureau.
If you have it in uncirculated condition, this coin is still worth the premium price of the green buck.
Its value is as follows:
The coin’s denominational value still stands at one cent. Thus, the value is equivalent to 1/100th of a dollar and is the value struck on the reverse side.
With 95% copper and 5% (Zinc and Tin) content, the coin attracts a melt value of $0.0278. Thus, it is the bare minimum value of the coin’s metal composition.
How Much Is the Indian Head at the Pawn Shop?
The Indian head has value as a numismatic coin, with the lowest value being $2 at a pawn shop
It sells at $6 in very fine condition, $10 in extremely fine condition, and $40 for a coin in MS 60 grade.
So, if you have an uncirculated MS 63 Indian head, you’ll be sure to collect at least $60 from pawnbrokers.
Comparison Table Showing the Value of the 1901 Indian Head Penny
|Coin Condition||Price of 1901 Indian Head Penny|
Factors that Influence the Value of the Coin
The I901 Indian Head coin is more than a century old. Hence its value depends on critical factors. These include its condition, rarity, and mistruck errors. Below is an in-depth look into the factors that may influence the value of your Indian head coin.
An Indian head cent in its pristine condition fetches higher than a worn-out coin. A professional grader can assess your coin to determine its worth. The specifications below can help you understand your coin’s value based on grading:
Your Indian head is well preserved, with all the images and texture intact as they were at the time of manufacture. Although its original luster may wear out, it shouldn’t be extreme.
Your Indian head cent only had a small circulation and exchange of hands between users. As a result, the coin appears pristine from far, but it has minor scratching and signs of wear on its faces upon closer inspection.
A fine-grade Indian head cent had a lot of time in circulation. As a result, it has visible signs of wear on its features, including images and inscriptions. Despite this, the images should be easily identifiable using the naked eye.
The lowest grade assigned to the 1901 Indian head cent is the G4 “Good” condition. The coin is considerably worn out in this state, with visible signs of bend, chipping, and scratching. However, if not extremely worn out, your coin could still fetch a price in the eyes of its collectors.
Mistruck errors are common phenomena for coins during minting, and the Indian head is no exception. As a result, these coins appear different from their counterparts of the same quality and type. If you think your Indian head has a mistruck error, watch out for double dies, missing letters, or clipped parts of the coin.
1. Is the 1901 Indian Head Coin Worth Anything?
Yes. The Indian head penny is worth about $1 but can fetch as much as $32 or more in uncirculated MS60 condition. However, if your coin is not graded by a professional or certified by the PCGS, it could fetch lower than the listed price.
2. What is the Value of the 1901 Indian Head Proof Coin?
The Philadelphia mint produced only 1,985 proof coins of the 1901 Indian head. Proof coins are worth $150 or more, depending on their condition.
3. Is the 1901 Indian Head penny Scarce?
No. Indian head pennies are not scarce since more than 70 million pieces are still in circulation. There are Indian coin dates considered rare because of low mintage. However, the 1901 series is not considered rare.
Winding Up: Is the 1901 Indian Head Penny Worth Collecting?
Numismatic collectors consider the varieties, rarities, grading, and key dates can make a difference in the value of your 1901 Indian head penny. The coin has a portrait of a Native American chief, and was one of the most popular and abundant coins of the time.
Do you still have questions about the 1901 Indian Head Penny value? Be sure to tell us!
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