1901 Indian Head Penny: History and Value

1901 Indian Head Penny: History and Value
Posted on April 11, 2024 by BOLD Precious Metals

If you reside in the United States, you are certainly aware that some coins are worth more because of their historical significance. For instance, consider the Indian Head Penny. Its approximately 150-year history makes this rare and incredible coin a treasure of American numismatic history.

History of Indian head penny

Specifically, the second coin in the Small Cent series, the 1901 Indian Head Penny, has a design modification on the reverse side and metal composition.

Obtaining a 1901 Indian Head Penny is crucial for collectors to finish their collections. Because these coins are among the last few in the Indian Head series, their value has increased. Nonetheless, considering their age—well over a century—finding one in outstanding condition is no small task.

Would you like to learn more about the 1901 Indian Head Penny value and history? This blog post will provide you with more amazing information.


From 1859 to 1909, the United States Bureau of the Mint produced the Indian Head cent, also known as an Indian Head penny.

It was designed by James Barton Longacre, who served as the Chief Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint.


The Indian Head cent, minted in 1901, was the first coin struck at the newly built United States Mint, Philadelphia, which was constructed at 1700 Spring Garden Street. Staff could significantly raise production by taking advantage of the new factory, under the support of major equipment updates.

Of the greatest significance was that instead of having steam responsible for powering each bit of every production line, they would all be powered by electricity now.

With the end of the Panic of 1893, which had forced the Mint to reduce the mintages several years earlier, the expansion of minting capacity was a welcome addition. However, at the same time, the country's economy was going well, and the demand for cent coins was unprecedentedly increasing.

The extensive use of coin-operated machines was the main reason for the increasing need for coins. The Adams Thum Co. began using coin-operated machines in 1888 and introduced the practice to America. Although this might seem weird now, in 1901, a penny had the identical buying power of $0.35 instead of $1. On the contrary, the inside machine was taking the thin pennies of the age.

While this heightened preference for the one-cent coin has occurred, only the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia can engrave these coins. Such a move would have to wait for five years, until 1906, before any lifting was done. It took all these coins, especially the most circulating cent the US had ever produced, the 1901 Indian Head cent.


Perhaps most well-known for this coin is James B. Longacre, who designed the Indian Head cent. As the fourth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, Longacre was a brilliant portraitist and engraver.

In 1859, he created the Indian Head Cent, which was first released. Though allegedly wearing a native headdress, the Native American depicted on the obverse is actually an effigy of Lady Liberty.

According to numismatic legend, Longacre drew a drawing of his 12-year-old daughter as the model for the design. However, according to most accounts, including Longacre's own, the model was really Crouching Venus, a Greco-Roman statue on loan from the Vatican and on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the late 1850s.



The Indian Head cent's obverse features a bust of Miss Liberty facing left and wearing a feathered headdress that is symbolic of Native American culture. The headpiece is decorated with elaborate ribbons, one of which is a sizable ribbon with the word LIBERTY engraved on it at the base of the headdress beneath the feathers covering Liberty's forehead.

A smaller ribbon with a diamond pattern laced through it hangs down Miss Liberty's neck. When the initial "L" for Longacre was placed on a different ribbon segment that was deeper in Liberty's lower hair detail in 1864, it acquired greater numismatic significance.

At the bottommost center of the obverse, right below Liberty's neck, is the date 1901. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is inscribed in the field along the obverse rim.



The 1901 Indian Head cent's reverse has a Union shield at the top center of the field, surrounded by an oak wreath. The word "ONE CENT," written in two lines in the middle of the reverse, is surrounded by a wreath. There is no mintmark on this coin because it was struck in Philadelphia.

     Value of 1901 Indian Head Penny

The value of 1901 Indian head pennies is increasing rapidly for coins in better condition, and precise "grading" is essential in distinguishing a coin worth a few dollars from one worth a hundred dollars.

You can match your coin to the images and grading descriptions to determine its value.

UncirculatedUncirculatedThis penny is as good as new, even with its age. The coin's toning might seem dark red or brown, but the design has not been tampered with in any areas.$20
Extremely FineExtremely FineThis grade has clear boundaries. The tiny bit of wear on the hair slightly above the ear requires close inspection. All in all, a beautiful coin with a good appearance.$10
FineFineOn 1901 Indian pennies in "fine" condition, the separation of the main design elements is evident.$4.50
GoodGood"Good" condition refers to a very worn coin that is still identifiable as a 1901 Indian penny.$2

In today’s market, the 1901 Indian Head Penny value is also influenced by the coin's mint state condition and color. Similar to other contemporary copper coins, the value of these coins differs significantly based on their color classification.

Mint State (MS) GradeColor DesignationAverage Value (USD)
MS67Red (RD)$8,000
MS67Red Brown (RB)$1,400
MS66Red (RD)$1,400
MS66Red Brown (RB)$450 - $500
MS66Brown (BN)$400
MS65Brown (BN)$150 - $200
MS65Red Brown (RB)$200 - $240
MS65Red (RD)$500 - $600
MS64Red (RD)$200 - $300
MS64Red Brown (RB)$200 - $300
MS64Brown (BN)$100 - $150
MS63Brown (BN)$60 - $100
MS63Red Brown (RB)$80 - $100
MS63Red (RD)$100 - $150
MS62Red (RD)$50
MS62Red Brown (RB)$50 - $80
MS62Brown (RN)$35 - $60
MS61Red Brown (RB)$25 - $30
MS61Red Brown (RB)$25 - $30


Delving into the Indian Head Penny of 1901 is a peek into much more than a coin; it is a doorway to the world of numismatics and the exciting story of America's past. This coin reflects the product of hard labor and innovation from the Philadelphia Mint revamps until the Ambassadors of collectors throughout the world possess this creation of ingenuity at their hands.

The Indian Head Penny of 1901 appeals to beginners and collectors of all skills since the hobby of numismatics is for everyone. It isn't just about its value monetary wise it is also about the histories and the tales that it carries.

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