1896 Indian Head Penny Value: Learn About This Coin

When looking at antique coins, or older penny, you might think that it is a treasure worth more than hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, when approximating the value of each antique coin, there are several deciding factors, such as how much it has been minted in the past, the rarity of antique coins, and the history behind the penny itself could inflate or deflate the value for antique coins. 

One such coin is the 1896 Indian Head penny value that has been minted in, you guess it? The United States of America. Although the name implies 1896, the coin itself is first minted in 1859 with the Indian figurehead minted on the penny. It is minted to attempt correction regarding the flying Eagle cent that has been deemed a failure in the past three years before this coin is minted. 


1896 indian head penny worth


If you have an 1896 Indian head penny value, then you might want to hold on to it and see the information regarding about value of the 1896 Indian head penny in your state. 

How much value of the 1896 Indian head pennyworth today? We will discuss it in our article here, and see whether this penny is still worth the same, or has become an antique coin that is worth more than a hundred dollars, for its higher-grade even hundred thousands of dollars. 

If you want to collect old coins, then the Indian head penny is very common among collectors. Due to its commonality, many people mistake it for cheap and common collections that can be bought for a cheap price. However, that isn’t the case for high-grade Indian head penny. 

How Much Is an 1896 Indian Head Penny Worth Currently?


The 1896 Indian head penny value is widely considered the first long-lasting and running small cent, and it is the precursor of the current penny pieces that we used today. It is minted by James B. Longacre, the designer of Flying Eagle cent that attempted to correct the design, and fixed its issues of it by forging a new, and long-lasting numismatic coinage legacy.

Flying Eagle cent was the predecessor of the Indian head penny, only lasting for at least three years after it is officially minted. It has a slight error in the legends, as well as the composition, making the creator wants to correct it by minting a better, and more reliable penny, and that is an Indian head penny.

The main feature of the 1896 Indian head penny is not just the Indian figurehead, but actually, the lady liberty portrayed is wearing a Native American headdress. 

The lady liberty is portrayed on the flank side, with the inscription of United States of America bellow lady liberty minted with the year. It has two reverse designs, the first one is the type used in 1859, and the second one is in 1860 iterations. 

The two versions have a different composition, the first 1896 Indian head penny value is composed of copper-nickel, with a consistency of 88% of copper, and 12% of nickel, it was used from 1859 until 1864

As the price of nickel reach a high price in 1864, people hoard this coin en masse, leading to the change of composition to 95% copper, and then 5% tin

The composition of Bronze (Copper and Tin composition) was then used until it was terminated and stopped minted in 1909, and then the newer Wheat Penny by Victor David Brenner has been released as the first Lincoln cent. 

Despite it being a very common cent, how much is an 1896 Indian head penny worth for today? If you are planning on investing in antique coins, or want to sell them, here is the valuing of the 1896 Indian head penny value.

When we are talking about the value of the Indian figurehead penny, there are at least three main categories for each grade, the usual grade, the reddish-brown coloration, and the full-reddish specimen. This coloration might be worth more than you might expect.

The usual specimens that don’t have any mark, or color specks might only be worth at least $2 to $50, depending on the grade, conditions, and clipping. This is the most common grade you can find for this Indian head penny. 

If you are starting a collection of old coins, this is one of the easiest coins you can add to your collection, since they mass-produced it in 1893 after the economic recession.

Now, as for the reddish-brown coloration, the value is much more worth it than the usual lower grade. The slight coloration is due to the bronze composite of Copper and tin. It contains a high amount of Copper that tends to tone a reddish-brown color as they age.

The least valuable color is brown or we called them a lower grade, then followed by a reddish-brown color and full red specimens of Indian head penny. The reddish-brown are rare specimens, and the full-red specimens are incredibly rare finds that are worth at least $1000.

The reddish-brown specimens or middle grade could be worth at least $100 to $250, and it is also different from each coin grading, and conditions. It also depends on the mark, or no mark of its coin, which could affect its price.

The most expensive and incredibly rare kind is the full red specimens. This grade is the highest, and it is sought after by many collectors. It could reach over $1.000, and if you are lucky enough, you might find the best MS-67 grade that could reach at least $26.000 in the marketplace today. However, since it is very rare to find, you might don’t want to get your hopes up. 

The History of The Indian Figurehead Penny


To answer the question of how valuable the Indian head penny we need to know more about the history behind it, how this coin is minted, the reason why the coin is minted in the first place, and who design this coin.

The 1906 Indian head penny is one of the first, long-lasting small cents, and the precursor of the current pennies we all know today. It has paved the way for the current pennies.

It was first minted in 1859, and the Indian head penny value was minted to correct the old, and deemed failed Flying Eagle cent in the 1850s. The designer of these coins is James B. Longacre, he was trying to create a coin that could be forged as long-running coins as his numismatic legacy. He creates the Indian figurehead penny.

During the economic recession of 1893, there is more demand for a penny, and therefore more mintage of this Indian figurehead penny, after the economic recession of 1893. With total pieces of 39,055,400 pieces mintage in the year alone, it is exclusively produced in Philadelphia. As with the pre-1907 Indian head penny, you will find it has no mark minted on it. 

Because of its high production, this penny remains the most common piece of coin, however, the highest gems grades of this coin are very sought after. The collectors will find no problem in finding the common specimen of this coin, but the incredibly rare specimens of full red will be worth a lot of money, especially if it is in nice condition. 

In most cases, however, the value is rather low, as the lowest value is at least $2 worth, and several varieties are also available in most states. None of them are high demands or have higher value, worth more than the reddish-brown specimens. 

It features the bust portrait of lady liberty that wore Native American feather accessories, that’s exactly why it is called Indian head pennies. The figure was flanked on both sides, with the inscriptions of the United States of America, along with the year of mintage for each coin.  

There are two iterations of design that changed in 1860. The first design has a laurel wreath that surrounds the nominations, and in the second design, the wreath has been changed into oak, with a shield, and a bundle of arrows was added as the logo. 

Some factors make the Indian head penny value sometimes change is caused of its composition. There are two versions of each composition. The first composition consisted of Copper (88%) and Nickel (12%). These coins have approximately a mass of 4.6 grams. 

In 1864, there are high increases in nickel prices, therefore many people were hoarding this nickel penny en masse, leading to the government changing its composition into a bronze penny. The composition was Copper (95%), and Tin (5%). 

Now, to further answer about what is an Indian head penny worth you also need to understand the grading of these antique coins. 

Valuing 1896 Indian Head Penny Worth


Back then, an 1896 Indian head penny value is not worth it, as it is one of the most common coins, of course, it is a penny. 

However, as of today, despite its common stocks, or commonality, the 1896 Indian head coins have a pretty high value, that can give you pretty good sums, especially if you get your hand on an 1896 Indian head penny value that has a nice reddish tone in coins, and high grade. 

1896 Indian Head Penny Worth


For antique coins, there are at least 5 grades of coins that can be sold by many collectors. The grades are Good, Very Good, Fine, Very Fine, and Extremely Fine. The grading of each antique coin depends on the conditions of each penny, the compositional value, the conditions of each coin, chipping or damage on coins, how rare the coins are, and so on.

For 1896 Indian head cent value depends on the conditions, chipping, damage, and the reddish tone of the coin. Since back then it is a quite common coin, it isn’t a rare coin by any chance; however, it becomes quite rare this day forward. 

The good grade-4 is worth at least $2, it is the cheapest value you can get. The very good-8 are at least worth $4. Fine grade-12 coins of Indian head penny 1896 could at least be worth $5.15. Very Fine grade-20 worth at least $8.25 to $10, and the rare extremely fine grade-40 could be worth in the market at least $15 to $17. 

Most of the 1896 Indian head penny value falls in extremely fine grade, but it also depends on the conditions, chipping, and grading. However, the value of this coin can increase up to $25 if the coin is uncirculated grade-50, or with uncirculated grade MS-60 with at least $41. The spikes in the price can increase to more than $67 for the MS-67 grade.

However, if the Indian figurehead coin has reddish-brown color coins, the Indian head penny 1896 value spiked and became high valued coin. The grade MS-60 to MS-66 coins could at least be worth form more than $100 to $550 for the grade MS-66. The Indian figurehead coin sometimes has a reddish-brown color, and the more reddish it can be, the better the value.

Other Years From This Coin Series:

1859 1860 1861
1862 1863 1864
1865 1866 1867
1868 1869 1870
1871  1872 1873
1874 1875 1876
1877 1878 1879
1880 1881  1882
1883 1884 1885
1886 1887 1888
1889 1890 1891
1892 1893 1894
1895 1896 1897
1898 1899 1900
1901  1902 1903
1904 1905 1906
1907 1908 1909


The full reddish specimens of 1896 Indian head penny value are very high, but it is very much worth it to hunt them down. Their value is dramatically increased over the other two colors of the coin. For example, the standard MS-60 is valued at at least $50, however, the value increased quickly with MS-64 for $130, and with MS-65 it could at least net $5.000.

If you have the high-grade Indian head penny, with a reddish-brown color, you might want to keep on it for a while in your collection, as the price for old coins is always increasing with each passing year, especially if you can get your hand on the full red specimens. 

The most expensive set of 1896 Indian head penny value is more than $26.500 it is an extremely rare grade MS-67 with the full red color and has the best antiquity. If your Indian head penny has red-brownish or even full red color, you might want to get a coin-grading service and be authenticated, so you can grade it, and know its value, for selling purposes.

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