The Indian Head Penny was a very popular penny during its mintage years and was minted for a long period of time. It had multiple weights, compositions, and designs. The coin was minted from 1859-1909. Its original composition consisted of 88% copper and 12% nickel and weighed 4.67 grams. This version was minted this way from 1859-1864. The second composition was issued from 1864-1909. It consisted of 95% copper and 5% zinc and weighed 3.11 grams. These coins all had a diameter of 19.05mm and all had the same face value of one cent. These pieces were minted at the Philadelphia, and San Francisco mints. San Francisco only minted the Indian Head Penny from 1908-1909.
The Indian Head Cent was a coin that held multiple different designs over the 50 years it was minted from. Its original design was a left-facing figure of Liberty who wore a Native American headdress while the reverse of the coin depicted the face value of the coin surrounded by a laurel wreath. The coins began being minted in 1859, but there are some coins that had an earlier version of the design which was designed in 1858 and were dated as such. These versions of the coin are extremely rare. In 1860, the coin saw the new reverse which contained a striped shield at the top of the coin which dissected an oak wreath. This replaced the laurel wreath on the original design of the coin. There is one more version of the coin that is extremely rare and was created by mistake. This was a minting error in which the word “Liberty” was engraved twice on the obverse. This version was minted in 1873. This is called the 1873 Indian Head Penny Doubled Liberty.
The rarity of the Indian Head Penny comes from the coins advanced age and low mintages, and scarcity in high grade. Some of the rare versions of this coin are the 1873 Doubled Liberty and the 1877 Indian Head Penny. These two years are rarer than others making finding a well-kept version of this coin anywhere very difficult.