By Lianna Spurrier for CoinWeek …..
Everyone knows that there are countless varieties of huge cents, meticulously cataloged and collected. Early silver coinage and Morgan dollars are the identical approach, with many collectors targeted on varieties. However did you ever cease to consider selection amassing with Indian Head cents? They’re usually seen as a reasonably simple 50-year run: one major design change, one composition change, and some varieties noteworthy enough to include in albums. The 1877 and 1909-S are the celebs of the collection, but they – and plenty of others – have tales to tell that we don’t hear very often.
The 1864 Copper-Nickel With L
Two major modifications have been made to the Indian head cents collection in 1864; the composition was modified from copper-nickel to bronze, and an “L” was added to the obverse in honor of James Barton Longacre, the designer.
Nevertheless, these modifications didn’t happen at the similar time. It’s clear from the coins we see that the composition was changed before the L was added, but that doesn’t imply that there are not any copper-nickel examples with the L. A grand complete of 5 such cash have been found–two proofs and three circulation strikes. All of them have been struck from dies additionally used on bronze planchets, and the circulation strikes have been launched alongside their bronze counterparts.
Some of these circulation strikes have been discovered graded, labeled as standard-issue 1864 copper-nickel cents. The proofs are usually recognized as patterns, though they do problem the definition of a pattern. Both the planchets and the dies have been used for non-pattern cash of the same yr, so may these as an alternative qualify as a traditional difficulty?
Regardless of what we name them, it’s value retaining an eye fixed out for in case a fourth circulation strike is sitting unidentified in a slab someplace.
Shallow and Bold N Reverses
Did you know that Indian Head cents have totally different reverses? The N in ONE regularly turned increasingly more shallow by way of 1869, then was made bold on most dies in 1870 and after, with some exceptions.
It was initially weakened on copper-nickel planchets to help with metallic move. There was some hassle getting a full strike on the obverse, but making the N on the reverse shallower pushed extra metallic up into Woman Liberty’s cheek, leading to a better strike. In 1870, after switching to bronze planchets, they realized that this was not needed and emboldened the N.
The distinction is sort of hanging when seen side-by-side, and is straightforward to select even on worn coins and not using a loupe. Nevertheless, as with most minor design modifications, it was not instant; some previous dies discovered their approach into manufacturing as late as 1877, which resulted in some cherrypickable varieties, resembling any 1870-1872 Indian Head with the Shallow N reverse. These are much rarer than their Bold N counterparts and may convey fairly a premium.
An Intentional Variety
In 1875, america Mint suspected an worker of pocketing a number of the cents he worked with every day. To catch him within the act, they confined him to a single press and marked the reverse die so the coins produced that day might be distinguished from any already in circulation. When the worker started appearing suspiciously, he was searched to disclose 33 of the marked cents. The man – a longtime worker in his 70s whose mental state was in query more than his morals – resigned and left the mint.
This story was first revealed in Might of 1972 in Numismatic Scrapbook, in an article by R. W. Julian. A letter describing the result of the investigation is reprinted in Rick Snow’s Flying Eagle & Indian Cent Attribution Information, 3rd Version, Quantity 1. It by no means states what modification was made to the die to differentiate the cash, and it remained a thriller for years.
In 2008, Stack’s was cataloging pieces for the Decatur Sale to be held in August, and somebody got here throughout what is now referred to as the 1875 S16, which has a raised dot on the top left portion of the N in ONE. It was extensively publicized, finally offering an answer to a numismatic thriller. While we will’t ensure that this is the marked coin referred to within the letter, it’s usually accepted because the probably candidate.
However that’s not the top of the story. Stack’s needed to avoid being accused of making an attempt to “hype up” their own coins, so the invention coin was listed within the catalog without any point out of the story behind it, or figuring out that it was distinctive. Everything of the description read, “Deep fiery pink and medium golden tan toning create wonderful eye attraction on this calmly cleaned, but very engaging instance. A small cud-like piece of additional metallic on the top of the diagonal of N in ONE provides curiosity.” There was no photograph within the auction catalog, leaving solely the specialists to know what it actually was.
As said in Snow’s Attribution Guide, “No one observed it, besides this writer and it bought for the worth of a traditional 1875 cent.” As we speak roughly 15 examples are recognized, and an MS64+ RD specimen bought for $four,080 at Stack’s Bowers in 2018. The variability and a two-sentence summary of its story have made their approach into the Pink Guide. The dot ought to be seen on any coins in a grade of Superb or greater, so even low-end items are value looking at.
A Closer Take a look at the 1877
We all know that 1877 is the important thing date of the collection, but have you ever ever stopped to think about why?
Mintages of Indian Head cents started to decline in 1866 when the Civil Conflict ended and hoarded cash began coming back into circulation, leading to much less need for brand spanking new coins.
On account of authorized tender legal guidelines at the time, banks might refuse to simply accept giant quantities of coins, notably base metallic cash. To encourage banks to simply accept them, the Mint started to permit banks to ship them giant batches of cash to be melted down and reissued. This eradicated numerous earlier-date Indian Head cents right through 1873.
Ultimately, the Mint got here to the belief that they might simply reissue the already minted coins as an alternative of spending the money and time to restrike them. Copper-nickel cents and enormous cents have been nonetheless melted, but bronze Indian heads have been put again into circulation. In consequence, they struck even fewer new cash annually.
1877 saw the height of a serious melancholy across the US, which led individuals to spend any change that they had been saving. This meant the Mint reissued extra cents of previous years and the mintage of latest coins reached a brand new low for the collection.
Taking a look at official numbers, there were supposedly 852,500 pennies minted in 1877. Nevertheless, among all recognized circulation strike examples, just one reverse die has been recognized. A die would normally solely last for about 200,000 coins, so if the number is to be believed, that die should have been falling aside by the top of the run.
However it wasn’t. They aren’t found with in depth die cracks or cuds, as can be expected from a die used to strike four occasions as many cash as regular. Something is amiss; perhaps the mintage document included coins dated 1876 or 1878, though this was unusual at that point in history. Despite the fact that the official mintage is considerably larger for 1877 than for the 1909-S, the 1877 is far more helpful because it is more durable to seek out.
It ought to be noted that each one circulation strikes for 1877 have been made with the Shallow N reverse, whereas all proofs have the Daring N. It’s generally believed that circulation points for 1877 have been weakly struck, but this isn’t the case – they’re overgraded. It’s notably necessary to take a look at the coin as an alternative of the label when buying an 1877.
The First San Francisco Pennies
The San Francisco Mint first produced cents in 1908, followed by the far more well-known rarities of 1909. Apparently sufficient, they started producing cents as a result of the trolley fare had been raised from five to 6 cents, creating far more want for them in the area.
The 1909-S Indian Head cent has an official mintage of solely 309,000, the bottom of the yr’s many various cent iterations. Even the rather more extensively coveted 1909-S VDB had a better mintage at 484,000 (but the 1877 is costlier than either).
When it was minted, the 1909-S largely flew beneath the radar. The Lincoln cent was announced early in the yr, so no one paid a lot attention to the top of a 50-year collection. When it was announced that the VDB can be eliminated after a public outcry, individuals started to hoard them, not realizing that the mintage of the 1909-S Indian head was truly decrease. Very few individuals saved rolls of those, though many stored rolls of Lincoln cents of the same yr and mint. Consequently, high-grade examples are very rare with solely 20 estimated to survive in MS65 or higher, in comparison with three,000 1909-S VDBs.
Regardless, the 1909-S is extensively counterfeited and must be bought raw with extreme warning. There are some telltale indicators to search for.
All obverses are weakly struck, and the first feather ought to be missing vital element even in high grades. This is straightforward to see with a fast flick through photographs of certified examples, and any specimens encountered with full element should not be trusted.
The shape and placement of the mintmark could be another giveaway. The underside line of the S could be very thin on genuine examples, and the underside left serif factors at the middle of a denticle. Two totally different reverse dies have been used, however that is the case on each.
Another thing to examine (which is true for your complete Indian Head collection) is the squareness of the sides. On genuine coins, the sides are barely beveled, while most counterfeits have very sq. edges. When you can stand an Indian Head cent up on its aspect, it’s in all probability pretend. This isn’t true for Lincoln cents, nevertheless, and shouldn’t be used as an indicator apart from Indian Head and Flying Eagle cents.
There are two oddities with the denticles close to the S identified by Snow that may help in verification, but these are very troublesome to see with a unadorned or untrained eye. The actual dies don’t exhibit any noticeable file marks or cracks, so the presence of any of these ought to increase an eyebrow.
Nevertheless, even a coin that checks off all of those packing containers might transform counterfeit. The ethical of the story? Use excessive caution when shopping for uncommon dates uncooked.
A Remaining Observe
An in depth take a look at the totally different kinds of Indian Head cents reveals quite a couple of with misplaced digits – a 1 in Woman Liberty’s neck, or a three in the denticles, and so on. It’s arduous to consider that anyone might mispunch a die so drastically as to place a number that distant from where it belonged.
It’s believed that these misplaced digits weren’t mistakes in any respect; moderately, they have been punched intentionally to examine the hardness of the die, positioned in areas the place they might be hidden and by no means observed. Apparently, nobody expected future generations to look quite so intently at the collection.
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