Indian Head (1859-1909)
The Indian Head one cent coin was produced by the United States Mint from 1859 to 1909. It was designed by James Barton Longacre, the engraver at the Philadelphia Mint. more...
The obverse of the coin shows "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA", the head of a Native American wearing a feather head dress, and the year of production. The word "LIBERTY" appears on the band of the head dress.
The coin's reverse side shows "ONE CENT" within an oak wreath (a laurel wreath before 1860), with three arrows inserted under the ribbon that binds the two branches of the wreath. Between the ends of the branches is the shield of the United States.
The coins struck between 1859 and 1864 contained 88% copper and 12% nickel, as required by law. In 1864, the weight of the coins was reduced from 72 grains to the present weight of 48 grains, and the alloy changed to 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. Research in 1863 indicated that bronze was an excellent alloy for minor coins, and so the copper-nickel alloy was discontinued. Another possible contributing factor for the alloy change was the whitish color of the early cents, which combined with their size was enough to confuse many merchants into thinking they were dimes, much as more recent cashiers shunned the Susan B. Anthony (minted 1979-1981) dollar coin for having dimensions similar to a quarter. In any event, total production of the Indian Head cent was 1,849,648,000 pieces.
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