HomeAuctionsThis Superb Gem 1909-S Indian Head Cent is Worth a Look

This Superb Gem 1909-S Indian Head Cent is Worth a Look

1909-S Indian Cent. Image: GreatCollections / CoinWeek.
1909-S Indian Cent. Image: GreatCollections / CoinWeek.

The 1909-S Indian Head Cent – What Makes This Coin Interesting?

The 1909-S Indian Head cent is one of only two branch mint cents struck using James Barton Longacre’s iconic mid-19th century design. Branch mint cents were first struck in 1908, but with the launch of the Lincoln cent in late 1909, branch mint cent issues would become commonplace.

1909 marked a transitional year for the one-cent coin. Litvak-American artist Victor David Brenner began work on the Lincoln cent design in January, and the United States Mint hoped to introduce the coin by the end of the year so that the coin could be released to mark the centennial of Lincoln’s birth. With preparations for a new coin underway, the Philadelphia Mint and the San Francisco Mint continued to strike coins with the old design. In total, the Philadelphia Mint produced 14,368,470 Indian Head cents before switching over to the Lincoln design in June. The San Francisco Mint struck 1909-S Indian Head cents in January and February only. With a mintage of just 309,000 pieces, this represents the lowest Indian Head cents mintage recorded for the entire series.

Often overshadowed by the 1909-S V.D.B. Lincoln cent, the 1909-S Indian Head cent is a significant coin in its own right. Considered a semi-key in the series (the 1877 Indian Head cent is the rare one), its appeal extends beyond date and type. Collectors often like to acquire first year and last year issues, and branch mint collectors find the first two S-mint Indian Head cents particularly interesting.

The PCGS MS67RD Example Offered by GreatCollections Presents a Rare Opportunity

Currently, PCGS reports three 1909-S Indian Head cents in the grade of MS67RD.

The PCGS top pop grade of MS67RD was first achieved by a 1909-S Indian Head cent pedigreed to the Joshua and Ally Walsh Collection. The Walshes were one-cent coin enthusiasts that assembled a landmark collection that set the standard for its time. Sold in 2006, the Walsh 1909-S Indian Head cent features nearly pristine surfaces, brilliant color, and only the occasional carbon fleck. Its $97,750 hammer stands as the record price paid at auction for this issue. This coin has traded a few times since and has never approached its record price.

In 2021, a second 1909-S Indian Head cent in PCGS MS67RD came to market. This coin has a pleasing look, but its original red color has mellowed somewhat in areas producing a coin that is bright in some areas and magenta in others. It brought $45,600 in a June 2021 sale.

The present coin offered by GreatCollections is the third 1909-S Indian Head cent graded PCGS MS67RD. This coin is not unknown to CoinWeek, as we observed it when it was offered in 2021 as a PCGS MS66+RD as part of the Dayton Collection. This coin has a pleasing color with a faint hit of discoloration on the high point of Liberty’s cheek. Tiny flecks above the 0 in the date and above the O in OF serve as prominent diagnostics.

Clearly, PCGS has reconsidered its recent grading opinion and placed this piece in its elite top pop, MS67RD grade. The current bid, as of the time of publication, is $25,030.13 (plus 12.5% buyer’s fee). The GreatCollections auction closes on January 21, 2024, at 4:12:30 PM Pacific Time. Supposing the discerning buyer prefers the look of this coin to the Walsh specimen, in that case, this auction presents a rare opportunity to get an important conditional rarity at an attractive price.

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Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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