1863, in the middle of the Civil War, the circulation of all
federal coinage had ceased. However, cent production at the
Philadelphia Mint increased again, with a total of 49,840,000
struck for circulation. An estimated 460 proofs were produced
for collectors, of which an estimated 300 survive in all grades.
Although the circulation strike is available without any difficulty,
the proof is much scarcer than the previous year of issue,
which only had a slightly higher mintage.
This was the first year of cents that were nowhere to be
seen until after the Civil War in 1865. The only items that
circulated freely as money were 1 cent sized tokens, privately
made and usually out of Bronze. Fractional paper currency
that was issued by the government instead of regular coins,
circulated freely as well. These saw production numbers
increase rapidly during the Civil War.
After the Civil War, these pieces started to circulate
for the very first time. It was in this period that most
circulated pieces acquired certain degrees of wear, and/or
other problems. During the early 1870’s, following
the coinage redemption act of 1871, many pieces of this
issue were melted. This Mint act authorized the United States
Mint to redeem minor coinage, including cents in copper-nickel
alloy and reissue the cents. All bronze pieces were reissued
after 1874 without being melted and recoined, but the copper-nickel
cents were melted. However, due to its large mintage many
1863 cents were saved and at least 10,000 pieces still exist
today in uncirculated condition.
Because of its high mintage, which was the highest production
of cents until 1897, this issue is commonly included in
type sets as the representative for this type. Another result
of its high mintage is that this coin is relatively common
in all grades up to MS-65. As with the other coins of this
type, carbon spots and discoloration are often found problems.
Weak strikes, a result of the hard copper-nickel alloy are
common on this issue, probably because the dies were used
longer before being put to rest compared to the previous
years. As a result, early die states with strong strikes
are very scarce, and always in demand for their overall
In MS-66, this issue becomes rare and higher graded pieces
are currently not known. Only about three dozen PCGS/NGC
MS-66 coins are available, and they are always in demand.
In this grade, pieces should have full, usually satin-like
luster. No more than a few slight marks should be visible
on either side. The natural coloration, as all copper-nickel
cents is a white, light grey color, highly appealing but
hard to find. Most pieces are toned to a darker color in
Proof coins of this issue are moderately scarce, but available
in most grades. Frosted pieces that are certified as being
Cameo are scarce, but can be found with some searching.
PF-66 graded pieces are rare with just less than a handful
pieces known to exist. A singe PF-67 has been graded by
PCGS, and is the absolute finest known, rare for the type
as well. The higher graded pieces should have no distracting
hairlines, and deep reflective fields. Although they are
among the scarcest of the proof Indian cents, they are not
much in demand except by specialists who are building sets.
As can be expected for proofs, all are strongly struck and
show high eye-appeal.
Overall, this issue is common in all circulated
and uncirculated grades up to the gem level, but gets very
scarce in higher grades. Proofs are less often available
than the 1862 issue, but can be located with some adequate
searching. Besides being popular for inclusion in type sets,
these are also collected as mementos to the Civil war, as
they were struck in the middle of America’s greatest
(or bloodiest) war.