Coin Value Finder » 1896 Indian Head Penny Value: are they worth money?

1896 Indian Head Penny Value: are they worth money?

Are you looking to buy an 1806 Indian Head Penny? Or maybe you have one and want to sell it? Either way, knowing the value of the coin will be important in the transaction of it. Regarding the 1896 Indian Head Penny value there are some good news and some less good news – depending on if you’re the buyer or seller.

1896 Indian Head Penny Details 

  • Mints: Philadelphia (No mint Marks)
  • Total Mintage: 39.055.431
  • Designer: James B Longacre
  • Diameter: 19mm
  • Weight/Mass: 3.11 grams
  • Composition: 95% Copper, 5% Tin, and Zinc

The obverse of the 1896 penny features a woman wearing a headband with feathers. At first glance, it appears to be an image of a young native American woman. But this is not the case.

The image is actually of the designer Longacre’s own daughter. This caucasian woman is, however, wearing a typical native American headdress on top of her long flowing hair. Longacre’s daughter’s image represents Lady Liberty.

There is a band tied across Lady Liberty’s forehead which flows down behind her neck. Across the band is the word “Liberty” written. Lady Liberty is facing left. In front of her face are the words “United States” and behind her are the words “of America”. Underneath her neck is the word “1896” representing the year of minting.

The face value of the coin is written in a prominent manner on the reverse side of the coin. Right in the middle are the words “one cent”. Above, close to the top rim, is a shield. This was added to the penny in the 1860s.

Surrounding the “one cent” is a laurel wreath. The laurel wreath is native to the Mediterranean and has traditionally been given to winners of competitions as a sign of honor, status, achievement, and victory.

There are many of these coins left today in good condition. This is due to the fact that 1896 was a good year striking year. Uncirculated 1896 pennies with an MS65 grading are not particularly rare.

However, the coins get increasingly rare as the MS grading goes up. For example, an uncirculated MS69 penny can reach a value of close to $500. The proof coin can be worth as much as $9000. Only 1862 proofs were minted this year.

1896 Indian Head Penny Value Chart

Condition Good Very Fine Extremely Fine Uncircrelated Uncirculated


Value $3 $8 $15 $25-45 $200-400 $500-9000

1896 Indian Head Penny Value and Varieties Guides

  • Type: Indian Penny
  • Edge: Smooth
  • Mint Mark: None
  • Place of Minting: Philadelphia
  • Year of minting: 1896
  • Face value: $0.01
  • Price: $2 – 45 (rare cases $500+)
  • Quantity: 39.055.431
  • Designer: James B Longacre

There are no instinctive mint marks on the 1896 Indian Head Penny. The history of the coin will reveal that there have been many versions of the coin throughout the years. Some with mint marks, some with errors, and other noticeable factors.

But this particular 1896 years Indian Head penny remains quite unremarkable in this regard. The share volume of coins minted, as well as the lack of mint marks, contributed to the relatively low value of this year’s rendition of the Indian head coin.

The 1896 Indian Head Penny comes in three different colors. All of which can have an impact on the value of the coin. The colors the coins are in are red, brown, and red-brown.

1896 Brown Indian Head Cent

1896 Brown Indian Head Cent

The brown 1896 Indian head coin is typically the least favorable among collectors and therefore has the lowest value. The surface often gets spotted and dull which is a big factor in its low value. The green spots are caused by copper metal which has been oxidized.

1896 Red-Brown Indian Head Cent

1896 Red-Brown Indian Head Cent

Red-Brown 1896 Indian head coin has a slightly higher value than the brown one. Generally, the surface has better intact detail work and fewer spots and blemishes.

1896 Red Indian Head Cent

1896 Red Indian Head Cent

The red 1896 Indian head coins are typically free from blemish and have a shiner, lustrous and bright appearance, which is why this one is valued the highest.

In order to find out exactly how much a coin is valued, it needs to be sent off to a professional grading company. This can take weeks and be very expensive.

Also Read: Top 15 Most Valuable Indian Head Penny Worth Money

1896 Indian head penny History

The coin’s designer was James B Longacre. From 1844 until his death in 1869, he served as Chief Engraver at the United States Mint. Other than the famous Indian Head Penny, he also designed the two-cent piece. These coins were the first to have “In God, We Trust” inscribed on them.

Longacre’s coin was the replacement of the nation’s first small cent: the coin featuring the flying eagle which was released in 1859. The name “Indian Head Penny” is actually misleading.

While it looks like the image is of a Native American woman, which even the name would suggest, this is far from the truth. The woman portrayed on the coin is Longacre’s own daughter.

The image is portraying Miss Liberty wearing a feathered headband. This attire is often attributed to the native American population. But the portrait on the coin is not of a native American, rather it’s a caucasian woman wearing what appears to be native American clothing.

The 1896 Indian Head Penny coin was minted for close to 50 years. It’s been one of the United States’ longest-produced coin series. The production of the coin stopped in 1909. Only the coin with the “liberty seated” motif, which was available between 1830 – 1890 has a longer life span in American coin history.

The earlier versions of the coins had a different composition. Initially, they were made up of 88% copper and 12% nickel. This was later changed to 95% copper and 5% nickel. The Indian Head coin saw several changes and alternations in its existence.

In 1864, some of the renditions of the bronze coins have the letter L (for Longacre) engraved on the ribbon from the headband which falls down on Miss Libertie’s neck. Since this year, however, the coin has been more or less the same since the ceasing of production.

Among all the Longacre’s Indian Head penny there are some that are more valuable than others. In the 1860s and 1870s, some coins were minted at very low volumes. In 1877, there were only about 850.000 copies made of the coin.

Compared to 1896’s almost 40 million copies, this is dramatically lower. It is not, however, the lowest volume minted by the Indian Head. In the last year of its production, in 1909, the coin was only minted at a volume of about 300.000 copies.

Also Read: Top 20 Most Valuable Old Pennies Worth Money (Penny Collection)

1896 Indian Head Penny Grading

It takes an expert to grade coins. In order to grade a specific coin, the expert will look at specific features and analyze how worn out they are. The greater the detail that remains on the coin, generally, it’ll receive a higher grading.

  • In Good condition: the word “liberty” is not visible on the headband. All details are essentially stripped away from wear and tear. Nothing is separating the individual feathers. The face is completely smooth and gone. Often experts require the full rim around the coin to be intact to get the grade “good”.
  • To be considered Very Fine the word “Liberty” on the headband is there and it’s visible, but there is some wear and tear on top of the word and it’s not always noticeable directly. The hair on the back of the neck is visible. The feathers have some detail and individuality. The headband also has some noticeable features. The face is present, but a bit rounded due to being worn out.
  • The Extremely Fine condition is when the inscribed “Liberty” is very sharp. There is no smudge between each letter. The details of the coin are overall rather sharp and easy and quick to spot. The ribbon from her headband is visible, albeit somewhat smudged. Some level of wear is acceptable on the coin, but it’s in good condition despite its age.
  • MS60 requires the coin to be sharp in pristine shape. There is a natural luster to the coin. However, some unavoidable abrasions, stains, and light surface marks are acceptable.
  • The MS63 Uncirculated coin value comes from its well-preserved nature. While the luster is allowed to be less pronounced, there can only be a few surface and contact marks on the major and most noticeable areas of the coin.
  • PR 63 Proof. In this condition, the coin has some reflective surfaces with only a few unavoidable surface marks. However, all blemishes must be away from the major focal points of the 1896 Indian Head Penny. There can be no major flaws that have an impact on the coin.

The nature of this particular coin is that they were very well-struck. They last a long time and many coins have survived the years without a major impact on the details. The survival rate of the 1896 Indian Head Penny means that many of them are still out there still in rather a good condition.

The value of the coins is therefore generally quite low. However, there are a few very rare coins in near-mint condition. The value of these few exceptional coins can break the bank.

Keep in mind that the value of these coins can vary. The featured description of what determines the value may differ depending on who is evaluating it. A detailed face may not guarantee its “extremely fine” condition or market value.

1896 Indian head penny Error

There are a few things to look out for when it comes to errors and variety among coins. Since the 1896 coins were minted in such large volumes, you can bet that there will be production errors visible on some coins.

Here are a few things you want to be on the lookout for.

Some coins of this design have been double-punched. This means that some aspects of the coin’s design had to be done twice. This can leave pretty noticeable or significant markers on the coins. For example, some coins have the word Liberty punched in twice on Miss Liberties’ headband. This results in the word “liberty” being written twice on the same coin; one, however, is slightly underneath the other one.

This kind of design error can often happen to the dates as well. Sometimes the printing year displayed on the coin is on the coin twice. Similarly in the way, it was described above.

Some coins are punched and actually reused. It can have an earlier year engraved, then the new year punched right on top of the old date. These types of errors on coins can dramatically increase the value of the coin.

1896 Indian Head Penny Value FAQ

How much is the 1896 Indian head penny worth?

The value of the 1896 Indian head penny is estimated between $2 – $500. The value depends on the conditions of the coin or if there are any significant marks or errors on the coin.

What year is the most valuable Indian head penny?

The most valuable Indian head penny is from 1877 and 1909. Both these years the minting production was low. This has made these versions of the Indian head penny the rarest and most valuable.

What Indead head pennies are rare?

The ones minted in 1877 and 1909 are the rarest Indian head pennies, due to the low production of those years.

How can you tell if an Indian head penny is real?

The fake ones are usually pretty poorly made. The digits and dates can be crooked, distorted, or uneven. Sometimes the coloring is a giveaway.

Should you clean Indian head pennies?

No, it’s not a good idea to clean Indian head pennies. The material used to clean can ruin the value of the coin. Especially if it’s an uncirculated or proof coin. It’s best to leave the Indian head penny be, even if it has residue, fingerprints, stains or other things you might believe should be cleaned off the coin. The best idea is to let it be.

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