Description and Analysis

Indian Cents

Description & Analysis

A solution to the hoarding of cents during the Civil War was found by observing the success of commercially issued tokens of copper that circulated freely. On April 22, 1864 Congress authorized a cent of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc to replace the useless copper-nickel cent.

With the coinage of gold and silver at the Philadelphia Mint already quite low, it was an easy matter to direct all of its resources to the mass production of bronze cents. Nearly 40 million were coined before year's end, most of these having the rounded bust tip of 1860-64 copper-nickel cents and lacking the designer's initial L.

Under such pressure, however, there were many die-punching errors both minor and major, as well as the overuse of dies which left them highly eroded. The resulting coins have blurry details and are not eye appealing in any grade. Fortunately, there appears to be a good supply of well struck Mint State examples, too. Enough 1864 bronze cents were preserved either by accident or design that this date is available even with full mint red color.