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You might be familiar with the Indian Head penny as a vintage coin with a charming young Indian girl on it. But don’t be so quick to pass this coin off as some random, cute coin. Although its iconic image is uplifting, many of the Indian Head penny issues are very valuable today.
The Indian Head penny ran in the U.S. Mints from 1859 to 1909. One of its key dates is 1908 since the following year would already be its curtain call. It’s also the first time the pennies were struck in San Francisco, making them very special.
So, how much is the 1908 Indian Head penny value today? Let’s take a look at this coin’s features, mint marks, errors, and more to make sense of how much it is worth in the modern age. Let’s jump right into it!
1908 Indian Head Penny Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Color||Extremely Fine||AU58 About Uncirculated||MS63 Select Uncirculated||MS65 Gem Uncirculated||MS67 Superb Gem Uncirculated|
|1908 No Mint Mark Indian Head Penny Value||MS Brown||$17.50||$40||$75||$215||–|
|MS Red Brown||–||$115||$325|
|1908 “S” Indian Head Penny Value||MS Brown||$215||$315||$550||$1,300||–|
|MS Red Brown||–||$650||$1,600|
1908 No Mint Mark Indian Head Penny Value
First struck in 1859, the Indian Head penny shows a young girl wearing a native feathered headdress worn by Indian chiefs at the time.
An old folktale says the designer, James Longacre, had seen his young daughter Sarah borrow this headdress from a native chief and immortalized the heartwarming moment on the obverse of the one-cent coin.
However, this legend has been debunked. Longacre’s old sketchbooks from a decade before the mintage of the Indian Head penny that he had been drawing this woman with the same Greek nose for years already, so it couldn’t have been his young daughter.
On the obverse’s rim are the words “United States of America,” with the mintage year at the bottom.
Meanwhile, the reverse was kept very simple. It shows a wreath of oak leaves tied together by a small bow at the bottom. At the top of the coin is a small shield. And in the center of the coin are the words “One Cent.”
In 1908, America was still feeling the effects of the financial crisis of 1907. Because of that, the mintage of coins lowered immensely. Less than one-third of the Indian Head pennies minted in 1907 were created in the series’ 1908 run, making these coins scarce and valuable today.
In Philadelphia, just over 32 million 1908 (P) Indian Head pennies were struck. As usual, the Philly-minted coins did not have a mint mark on the coin. Coins in circulated conditions are quite common. Surprisingly, so are uncirculated issues, since coin collectors were able to preserve them.
In fine condition, circulated 1908 (P) Indian Head pennies are worth around $5 today. In extremely fine condition, the price goes up to $17.50. And in the top-notch circulated grade of AU58, you can expect this coin to have a modern-day value of $40.
The value of uncirculated coins, on the other hand, isn’t just dictated by their condition. The color of the 1908 (P) Indian Head pennies also matters greatly.
These coins are made of 95% copper, which means they’re prone to browning over time. Here are the three color designations given to mint-state 1908 Indian head pennies that determine their value:
- MS Brown: Has lost 95% of red, coppery color
- MS Red Brown: Shows both red and brown toning; has retained 5% to 9% of red luster
- MS Red: Has preserved 95% or more of its original, bright red shine
Coin collectors pay huge premiums to cop Indian Head pennies with most if not all of their original, red copper luster intact to add to their collection. But that doesn’t mean MS Brown or Red Brown coins are worthless. On the contrary, they can also be worth hundreds of dollars.
Let’s take an MS63 1908 (P) Indian Head penny, for instance. In MS Brown and Red Brown, this coin can be valued today at $75 and $115, respectively. But when it has that full, rich, MS Red color, it can sell for almost $200.
At MS65, on the other hand, MS Brown and Red Brown pennies can cost $215 and $325 respectively, which already sound incredibly high. But an MS Red equivalent would be valued at $675—over double the price of a Red Brown coin.
Meanwhile, 1908 (P) Indian Head pennies are so rare in MS67 that they’re only available in MS Red. These coins are worth a very high price of $17,750 today!
1908 S Indian Head Penny Value
Up until 1908, it was only the Philadelphia Mint that was assigned the task of minting the Indian Head pennies. The 1908 issue was the first to include San Francisco-minted coins in its production, making them incredibly special and valuable.
You’ll see the “S” mint mark on all of these coins on the reverse, right under the oak branch wreath.
The total mintage of the 1908 S Indian Head penny sat just above 1.1 million coins. The low mintage makes this issue quite rare, so it’s a key date for collectors who want a piece of history in their collection.
Forward-thinking coin collectors hoarded this coin when it came out and in the decades after. Because of that, the 1908 S Indian Head penny is scarce in circulated condition. Those that have survived the century are moderately worn.
A weak strike seems to be the hallmark of the 1908 S Indian Head pennies. So, don’t be surprised if you see valuable coins in excellent, even mint-state condition with smoother high points and lines in the design that aren’t as bold and intricate. That said, these coins are still valuable.
Even in circulated conditions, the 1908 S Indian Head pennies are immensely valuable. In the poorest condition, you can still expect to sell these coins for about $80. In MS Brown and extremely fine condition, the price hikes up to over double that at $215.
Mint-state 1908 S Indian Head pennies are also rare. Many of them have streaky, brownish toning now. The MS Red coins of this issue, on the other hand, look a bit pale and brassy due to the type of planchets used in the San Francisco Mint that year.
As with all copper coins, this difference in color dictates which 1908 S Indian Head penny is more valuable. For example, at MS63, a Brown coin is worth $550 today. At MS Red Brown, this price shoots up to $650. A fine and lustrous MS Red coin, on the other hand, can cost $1,250!
And at MS67, the 1908 S Indian Head penny is so rare that it’s only available in a carefully preserved, MS Red condition. If you’re lucky enough to score one of these fine coins, you’ll be happy to know that the value is extremely high at $25,000.
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1908 Indian Head Penny Grading
The fastest way to assess the overall condition of your 1908 Indian Head penny is by inspecting the highest points of the coin for any heavy wear. These include the cheeks and ear of the young girl wearing the feathered headdress, as well as the branches of oak in the wreath.
Put the coin under direct light and tilt it a bit. Observe the high points to see if there’s a good luster. If they do, you have a high chance of owning an uncirculated coin, which is rare and valuable. But if the points seem flat and smooth, and never catch the light, you likely have a worn, circulated coin.
Want to learn how to properly assess your 1908 Indian Head penny? Watch this grading guide to get started:
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Rare 1908 Indian Head Penny Error List
Because of the relatively low mintage of the 1908 Indian Head penny—at least compared to pennies struck today—there aren’t a lot of common errors in this issue.
But that just means that mint errors are incredibly rare. Coins with errors become one-off issues, not common varieties. Therefore, they carry the potential to increase the value of your coin.
Read about rare 1908 Indian Head penny mint errors below:
1908 Indian Head Penny Misplaced Date Error
A coin has a misplaced date when there’s a faint re-stamp of the numerals that spell out the date below the actual mintage year on the coin. A 1908 penny with this error may look like nothing about it is out of place at first, but as soon as you grab a magnifying glass, the error becomes clear.
The likely cause of a misplaced date is that an employee at the Mint tested the date die on the edge of a coin to check if it works. The logic is that the edge will be covered up the coin’s denticles anyway, so people probably assumed that no one would notice the second stamp of the date.
1908 was the final year that dates were punched into the master dies by hand. So, misplaced or “repunched” dates are quite common.
This interesting error was found on an MS65 Brown 1908 Indian Head penny that ended up selling for around $100.
1908 Indian Head Penny Double-Struck Error
A double strike occurs when an already stamped coin is not ejected properly out of the collar. Because it is stuck in its position, it gets struck a second time by the die. Some double strikes are not so obvious, but they become very noticeable when the second punch is off-center.
A circulated 1908 Indian Head penny in a less-than-stellar grade of Good-6 was once found with this error. In 2020, it sold for almost $100. The value of a coin in this grade is usually just $2 without errors.
1908 Indian Head Penny Struck 20% Off-Center Error
You can tell that a coin has an off-center strike if one corner of the coin is blank. This error occurs when the die is not able to punch the planchet in its exact middle, resulting in a cut-off design.
An MS61 Brown 1908 Indian Head penny had been found with a strike that was 20% off-center. The mintmark area had completely fallen off the planchet, as well as the words “States Of” on the obverse. The coin had sold for $400.
1908 Indian Head Penny FAQs
Where is the S on a 1908 Indian head penny?
On the San Francisco-minted 1908 Indian Head pennies, you can see the “S” mint mark on the reverse side of the coin. It should sit near the bottom, right between the ribbon tying the oak leaves together and the coin’s lower rim.
How many 1908 Indian head pennies were made?
In 1908, there were 32,326,367 Indian Head pennies minted in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Mint produced a low mintage of 1,115,000. That means a total of 33,441,367 Indian Head pennies were struck that year.
Which Indian head pennies are valuable?
There are plenty of key dates that make an Indian Head penny extra valuable, like the 1894 double-date penny or pennies struck between 1869 and 1872.
The 1908 S Indian Head pennies are also extremely valuable since it was the first year the San Francisco Mint produced coins from this series. Because it was the curtain call year of the Indian Head penny, it would also be the last.
Are Indian head pennies lucky?
Some numismatic lovers believe that coins can bring you good luck. The Indian Head penny is one of these coins because it’s so rare, and therefore, very precious.
If you don’t plan on selling your 1908 Indian Head penny for a profit, keep it as a good luck charm when you need an extra hand from the universe.
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