The Myth of the Indian Head Penny or Red Cent

The “Indian Head” one cent coin has also been called the “Indian Penny” or “red cent”.

It was minted from 1859-1909.

Myth Busted !!! It does not have an Indian on it at all !! Instead it shows the head of Lady Liberty wearing a Native American feather headdress. Lady Liberty is an iconic American symbol.

The portrait was designed by James Barton Longacre, the engraver for the Philadelphia Mint between 1844 and 1869.

Legend has it that Longacre used his 12 year old daughter, Sarah, as the model for Lady Liberty but to this day, it is not known if that is true or if Lady LIberty was based on sketches that Longacre made at a Philadelphia museum of Venus.

Indian Head Penny values vary from about $1 to $500 depending on the year.  If you have an 1877 or a 1909-S, don’t use it in a parking meter ! (Oh, they don’t take pennies anymore??!!)