Description and Analysis

Indian Cents
1908 S 1C MS

Description & Analysis

Higher than normal prices in the West, a legacy of the Gold Rush economy, obviated the need for cents in that part of the country until the 1890s. More or less civilized by that time, the West saw prices fall to the point where it began ordering cents from the Treasury. After several years of petitioning by the Mint, Congress finally passed a bill in 1906 that permitted the production of minor coins (cents and nickels) at the branch mints.

San Francisco's first mintage of cents came in November of 1908, and it was a modest one. 1908-S cents were always scarce in circulation, though moderately worn examples are available in good numbers today. Hoarding during the 1920s-30s withdrew most of them before they could become severely worn like their Philadelphia counterparts.

Mint State pieces are scarce but not rare. Those having full red color are actually a pale, brassy color due to the planchets used at San Francisco. Far more common are examples having streaky, woodgrain toning such as that seen in the above specimen. Weakly struck feather tips seem to be the norm for San Francisco Mint Indian Head Cents of this and the following date.