Do you have a 1900 Indian head penny lying around in the house? Well, you might be surprised to learn that it’s worth a lot more than one cent today.
This coin belongs to a historic series of Indian head pennies that are very attractive to modern coin collectors, especially when they’re in excellent condition and show off that gorgeous, reddish copper shine. Some of them are valued at hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
But regardless of the condition of your 1900 Indian head penny, chances are the value is still insanely bigger than what you would expect—yes, even in poor to average condition.
Today, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of this coin that was minted at the turn of the 20th century. We’ll talk about how it looks, how to grade it, and how much you can get out of it if you sell it today.
1900 Indian Head Penny Value Details
- Category: Indian Cents
- Mints: Philadelphia
- Total mintage: 66,831,502
- Obverse designer: James B. Longacre
- Reverse designer: James B. Longacre
- Edge: Plain
- Diameter: 19mm
- Content: 95% copper with 5% zinc and tin
- Weight: 3.11g
The copper Indian head pennies were minted every year from 1859 to 1909. It was minted only in Philadelphia for almost 50 years until the San Francisco mint had a run in 1908 and the year after.
The 1900 version of this coin specifically was minted in Philadelphia only, so you don’t see a mint mark on it like other coins. What makes it really special is that it is the first US coin that reached a mintage of over 60 million coins in one year.
Because it was so plentiful in the year of its minting, it was a very common coin back then and today for collectors as well. Numismatic enthusiasts love this coin because of the centennial year beautifully embossed on it.
Both the coin’s obverse and reverse were designed by James Barton Longacre, who was the Chief Engraver at the Philly mint in the 1850s. It was made to replace the Flying Eagle cent, a coin meant to replace another that people complained was too big and heavy.
People love this coin’s design because it was simple yet graceful. The obverse shows a portrait of a lady wearing an Indian headdress. There’s a ribbon on the woman’s head that says the word “Liberty” on it, tying together the country’s Native American roots and its more modern principles.
What’s funny is that the woman in the portrait isn’t actually a Native American. If you look closely, you’ll see that she has a Greek nose.
The woman is a Caucasian wearing a feathered headdress. There were rumors that this was modeled after Sarah Longacre, the designer’s daughter, but this belief has been debunked.
This side of the coin also has the words “United States of America” on it, as well as the year 1900—the date it was minted.
The reverse is just as simple and straightforward but packs a punch. There’s a beautiful wreath on the surface along with the words “ONE CENT” written on it in big letters.
1900 Indian Head Penny Value Chart
|1900 Indian Head Penny Value Chart|
|Mint Mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||AU50 About Circulated||MS-60 Uncirculated||MS-66 Gem Uncirculated|
|1900 Indian Head Penny Value
No Mint Mark (P)
|MS BN: $2||MS BN: $4||MS BN: $15||MS BN: $30||MS BN: $60||MS BN: $400
MS RB: $515
MS RD: $1,650
1900 Indian Head Penny Value and Varieties Guides
1900 Indian Head Penny Value for No Mint Mark (P)
- Type: Indian Cents
- Edge: Plain
- Mint mark: No mint mark (P)
- Place of minting: Philadelphia
- Year of minting: 1900
- Face value: $0.01
- $ price: $1.50 to $7,850
- Quantity produced: 66,831,502
- Designer: James B. Longacre
The 1900 mint of the Indian head penny is quite common today, especially in worn and average condition. That said, it’s also not that difficult to hunt down and collect these coins in mint state, especially those in choice quality.
There are plenty of circulated 1900 Indian head pennies to go around, especially in good to very fine condition. There were also a handful of AU50 1900 Indian head pennies that were auctioned off in the early 2010s anywhere from $15 to $38.
But the 1900 Indian head pennies with the highest value are those that are uncirculated. Luckily for avid collectors of the Indian head penny series, there have been auctions at the turn of the century for MS60 to MS66 coins, which can cost between $40 to $7,850, depending on the color.
One of them even sold for $141,000 because it had an incredibly rare gold planchet error, but we’ll talk more about that in a second.
Of course, the better the condition of the coin, the higher the projected value. But it isn’t just the condition that matters when it comes to how much this coin costs today. Since it’s a copper coin, the amount of red luster (as opposed to brown dullness) also dictates its value.
Uncirculated MS BN (Brown) 1900 Indian head pennies that range from MS60 to MS65 are worth around $50-165.
Meanwhile, MS RB (Red Brown) varieties of the same grade are valued at around $230. MS RD (Red) coins—the most expensive of the three—of this same grading can cost upwards of $785.
History of the 1900 Indian Head Penny
In the mid-1800s, Americans started getting more and more frustrated with the copper cent, which was thick, heavy, and as big as today’s half-dollar coin. It was then that the government came out with the Flying Eagle cent, the country’s first small cent coin.
However, the Flying Eagle design was met with issues when it came to striking the coin at the mints. Many of them came out weakly struck, so the eagle’s tail and wings didn’t come out right. So, it was time to once again look for a new design to replace it.
James Longacre, the Chief Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint, was less than thrilled about this since he was the one who designed the Flying Eagle cent.
The mint director asked him to consider designing a coin with Christopher Columbus’ head on it, which Longacre wasn’t so keen on. Instead, he designed the coin to have the portrait of what looked like a Native American-Indian girl wearing the traditional Indian feathered headdress.
Thus, the Indian head penny was born in 1859. This coin would continue to run in the Philadelphia mint (and later on, the San Francisco mint for a couple of years) until 1909, making it one of the longest-running coins in the US mints.
Like the Flying Eagle design before it, the Indian head penny was first made of 88% copper and 12% nickel. But because it was so heavy, it was later reduced in weight and composition to 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc.
1900 Indian Head Penny Grading
Like all coins, the value of a 1900 Indian head penny is greatly dictated by its condition. Here are three common ways to grade the condition of your coin:
- Good: Circulated coins that have scratches and chips but are still distinguishable in design.
- Extremely fine: Limited amount of circulation. Has light wear and is more lustrous than a good or fine coin.
- Uncirculated: In excellent shape; still shiny and has the lines and imagery of the design well-preserved. The texture is good as new too.
Aside from the condition, copper coins like the 1900 Indian head penny require an extra level of grading—determining how much of the original red luster is preserved in the coin.
The NGC categorizes the color grade of Indian head pennies and other copper coins into three: MS BN for Brown (less than 15% red luster), MS RB for Red Brown (more than 15% red luster), and MS RD for Red (at least 85% of red luster still preserved).
MS BN is the least valuable since it’s the dullest and has lost a lot of the rich, red luster that comes in copper. MS RD, on the other hand, is the most valuable and sought-after of the three.
Need more tips on how to grade Indian head pennies? This video by BigDCoins will be extremely helpful, especially for uncirculated coins:
1900 Indian Head Penny Errors
1. 1900 Indian Head Penny Struck on $2.50 Gold Planchet Error
Perhaps the most controversial and intriguing error among the 1900 Indian head pennies is that a handful of them were struck on a gold planchet, instead of the copper one it was meant for.
Gold planchets are reserved for half-dollar coins, so it seems ridiculous and almost impossible that an error like this could occur, but it has. Some even speculate that these coins were struck on gold planchets on purpose at the request of high-profile collectors, but no one can know for sure.
This error has only happened to five Indian head pennies in history—three of which are dated 1900. One of these was auctioned off in 2015 for $141,000 because of its rare and wild error.
To this day, the coin community becomes incredibly excited when one of these pennies turns up again.
2. 1900 Indian Head Penny Strike-Through Error
From the wildest, rarest error, let’s go to the most common one among 1900 Indian head pennies. Like with other coins, a strike-through error can be found in several of these coins.
Before a coin is struck, the planchet should be clean and free of any dust or debris. But sometimes, it’s struck with these obstructions in the way of the die, leading to a not-so-clean strike.
The result? Part of the text or design of the coin goes missing. The more dramatic the missing part of the coin, the more valuable it becomes when sold.
3. 1900 Indian Head Penny Double-Struck Error
When a coin is double-struck, it means that the die had struck them twice for one reason or another. It causes the coin to have a faint second image of the design seemingly struck right on top of the first.
A double-strike error is quite rare for Indian head pennies. But when they do turn up, they’re most commonly noticeable on the word “Liberty” on the obverse of the coin.
4. 1900 Indian Head Penny Off-Center Head Error
When the planchet and the die aren’t aligned properly, it can result in an off-center positioning of the design on the coin. In the case of Indian head pennies, this manifests in the head of the Indian girl looking a little misaligned.
Curious about how these Indian head pennies would look with errors? Watch this video by Couch Collectibles to see them!
1900 Indian Head Penny Value FAQs
What makes a 1900 Indian head penny valuable?
A 1900 Indian head penny is valuable to many collectors because it’s a centennial coin, which means it’s an “in-between” coin bridging two centuries together. Even if these pennies are in poor or average condition, they’ll still be worth way more today than the value they had a century ago.
How much is a 1900 Indian head penny worth?
The value of a 1900 Indian head penny today heavily relies on its coin grade and condition. And for Indian head pennies, this depends on how much of its original red luster it has retained over the years. The browner the coin is, the cheaper its value. The redder, the more expensive it becomes.
A circulated MS BN (Brown) 1900 Indian head penny in good condition can cost about $2. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s already 20,000% up from its original face value. On the opposite side of the spectrum, an uncirculated MS RD (Red) penny can be worth around $7,850.
Which Indian head pennies are valuable?
The most valuable Indian head pennies are those minted in the year 1877. The 1900 Indian head penny is also of great value because it bridges the production of this coin from the 19th century to the 20th. That said, all Indian head pennies are valuable because of the rich history behind them.