S-Mint Indian cents: classic American coins

Through Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for PCGS ……

There are few coin series that saw the light of day in the 19th century and which are as widely collected by date and mintmark as the Indian cent.

Conceived by James B. Longacrechief engraver of the Currency of the United Statesand in production from 1859 to 1909, the Indian Cent saw the vast majority of its production in Philadelphia Mintwhich was for a long time the only Mint factory authorized to produce small denomination base metal coins; bronze pennies and copper-nickel pennies could not be produced in mint shops. This changed in 1906 when the restriction that prevented branches from producing low value base metal coins was lifted.

The first of these base metal coins to be produced outside of Philadelphia was the 1908-S Indian Cent. Originally from the San Francisco CurrencyThe 1908-S marked a new era for the United States Mint, as the production of base metal coins would soon become a standard. This was further cemented in 1909, the year which saw the production of 1909-S Indian centsamong the last coins to be minted for the series.

The 1908-S saw a mintage of just over a million while the 1909-S saw a much leaner production of just over 300,000 pieces. Both S-mint issues saw runs considerably smaller than what had become customary for the Indian Hundred at that time, especially as Philadelphia regularly produced over 50 million coins each year for most of the year. previous decade. Today, the 1908-S and 1909-S are considered rare collectibles among series enthusiasts. Both numbers are classified as hard semi-key dates, outclassed in overall scarcity and demand only by the regular 1877 Indian Cent series number key.

1908-S Indian Cent

With its mintage of 1,115,000 pieces, the 1908-S represents the third smallest mintage of the series behind the 1877 and the 1909-S, details of which will be discussed shortly and in more detail. The 1908-S is widely regarded as a coin of numismatic significance as the first of the minor denominations to be minted outside the Philadelphia Mint. The prominence of the coin ensures its popularity with collectors, and this is one of the reasons that even moderately circulated specimens regularly trade for triple digits. Most specimens exist in the fine to extremely fine grades, with prices for these coins typically ranging from $ 100 to $ 175.

The 1908-S Indian cent is becoming much rarer in uncirculated grades, with the vast majority of coins being classified under MS65. Most uncirculated specimens are known with red-brown (RB) surfaces rather than brown (BN) or red (RD) tints. A typical 1908-S in PCGS MS64RB costs around $ 750, while an example of the same grade but with the RD designation costs about double that amount, or $ 1,500. The record price for a 1908-S was claimed in January 2021, when a PCGS MS67RD took down $ 21,600.

1909-S Indian cent

The Indian Cent 1909-S has a mintage of just 309,000 coins, making it the lowest mintage of the series – even lower than the key date of 1877, which saw a mintage of 852,500 copies . One of the main reasons the larger-run 1877 Indian cent wins over the smaller-run 1909-S, as the key date is that far fewer 1877 copies were saved in production; a severe economic recession in the United States at that time helped lead to this reality. Conversely, the 1909-S was saved in sufficient numbers as last year’s show.

Even still, the surviving numbers of the 1909-S Indian cent are eclipsed by overall demand for this ever popular coin. The best-known specimens are found in the diffused mid-range grades, with prices ranging between $ 350 and $ 600 for pieces in the Fine to Extremely Fine range. Uncirculated specimens are particularly rare, and Full Red coins are even rarer. Examples rated PCGS MS63BN trade around $ 1,300, while in PCGS MS65RB they trade for $ 3,000. The record 1909-S Indian cent price goes to a PCGS MS67RD specimen which made $ 97,750 at auction in 2006.

Collect S-Mint Indian Cents

The 1908-S and 1909-S Indian cents were widely counterfeited. One of the primary means by which numismatic disbelievers attempt to forge these San Francisco coins is to add an “S” to the reverse of the Philadelphia mintages of 1908 or 1909. One of the keys to spotting a counterfeit Indian cent or altered from 1908-S or 1909-S is to compare mint marks; the same mint mark “S” was used for the 1908-S and 1909-S work dies, so the mint marks “S” on these coins must match those found on the coins and illustrations of these programs.

As always, the safest way to collect rare items like the 1908-S and 1909-S Indian Cents is to simply purchase the ones held by PCGS. These encapsulated Indian cents can also be included in PCGS set register collections of Indian cents, and these are extremely popular. At present, there are well over a dozen different types of Indian cent collections on the PCGS Sets Register, providing many exciting and challenging opportunities for collectors who wish to show their 1908-S and 1909- Indian cents. S.

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