Wheat Cents & Indian Head Pennies
The Wheat cent and Indian head penny designs are two of the most iconic coins designs in the history of American coinage.Whether you are considering purchasing Copper Pennies for their value in bullion or collecting historical pieces for pleasure, Provident Metals has a wide variety of cent pieces from which to select. We offer an array of one cent pieces issued from 1862 to 1958 at a time when the U.S. Mint still produced them using up to 95% pure copper and combinations of nickel. During various times of national hardship such as the great wars and economic depression, many U.S. coins have been hoarded for their intrinsic value, repurposed for their metal content for military use, or had their production manipulated by the U.S. Treasury in order to prevent hoarding. Owning these pieces, many of which are considered collectible, is one way to protect your bullion purchase from such federal actions in the future.
The Indian Head Cent was issued from 1859 to 1909 with only slight design variations throughout that time. Also known as the Indian Penny, this one cent piece was produced primarily at the Philadelphia Mint and later at the San Francisco Mint in 1908-09. It was designed by famed sculptor James Barton Longacre, and engraver at the Philidelphia Mint. Well known for its obverse design of a Liberty Head wearing a traditional Native American headdress of feathers, the word LIBERTY is also inscribed on her headband with the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA with its year of production. In 1859 the reverse design featured a wreath of olive branches encircling the words ONE CENT. The design was modified slightly in 1860 where the wreath is made of oak and olive branches tied at the base with a ribbon, and this design continued until the end of the series in 1909. The cents that were struck between 1859 and 1864 were composed of 88% copper and 12% nickel. These issues were sometimes, therefore, sometimes called a nickel or “nick.” Following the Civil War, the Indian Head Cent was changed to bronze, composed of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. These coins remained very popular with the public until the introduction of the Lincoln Cent in 1909.
The design of the Lincoln Cent piece was begun in order to honor the 1909 centennial of the birth of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. It holds the distinction of being the first U.S. coin to feature an actual person as opposed to idealized individuals such Lady LIberty. So revered was Abraham Lincoln, however, that the public began making repeated and earnest requests to the Treasury Department for a coin that would be a fitting tribute to President Lincoln’s great sacrifice and service to his country. Based on a recommendation from then President Theodor Roosevelt who was very fond of a popular Lincoln plaque designed in 1907, Victor David Brenner was commissioned by the U.S. Mint to sculpt the coin. Brenner's design closely followed a Lincoln profile he had used as a model for other work, and it has also been suggested that Brenner used a famous photo of Lincoln reading to his son, Tad,for inspiration. Brenner is also said to have used the image of Lincoln reading to a child as inspiration because he felt this would represent Lincoln at his “brightest.” After some minor adjustments to the size and placement of Lincoln’s profile and the words IN GOD WE TRUST and LIBERTY, Brenner’s obverse design was released to the public on August 2, 1909 to great public interest with great lines of people waiting outside the U.S. Treasury to scoop up the new coins. The Lincoln Cent from 1909 to 1958 is sometimes referred to as a Lincoln Wheat cent because of its reverse design. Brenner’s reverse design features two stalks of wheat on either side of the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and ONE CENT. Above this design, the Latin motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is also inscribed. Except for a break during in 1943 during World War II when copper was needed for the war effort, each Lincoln Wheat Cent was produced using a metal alloy of 95% copper and 5% tin or zinc until 1982 when inflation made copper too expensive. Since then, the U.S. penny has produced using zinc with an outer layer of copper for color.