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1865 Indian Head Cent
1865 Indian Head Cent

The 1865 Indian Head Cent was partly produced in the Civil War, and was the last issue made in that historic period as such. With a large mintage, coins of this issue remained in circulation for at least 50 years, according to some sources. Circulation strikes are available in all grades, but as the previous issue Mint red coins are scarce in higher grades. Overall however, this is the easiest issue from the 1860’s to acquire.

Although not listed in the Guide book of United States Coins (the red book) as listed varieties, the date comes in two different styles. This is only shortly mentioned in the red book, and prices are not differentiated. However, the plain 5 is somewhat scarcer than the so-called “Fancy 5”. These are identified by the form of the 5 in the date. On the “Fancy 5” variety, the top of the five is sharp and hooked. On the Plain 5, this hook is much flatter and not as notable. Circulation strikes were made of both varieties, but the proof is only available with the Plain 5.

With a total mintage of 35,429,286 circulation strikes, this is the first Bronze cent that is available in gem grade without excessive cost. However, this is for pieces designated as Red-Brown or brown by the grading companies, with only part of the original Mint red color remaining. Gem red pieces remain rare, but are slightly more available than the previous year. These are often bought for either complete Civil War sets, or complete Indian Head Cent sets from 1859 to 1909. In type sets, the early issues are not often completed to the general availability of the later issues.

In all circulated grades, this issue can be located without any problems. It must be noted that pieces showing any problems, like cleaning, damaged or rough surfaces. This applies usually to all coins, except rarities. As these pieces circulated widely throughout the United States for many decades, many come with problems and are correctly called “cull pieces”.

In Mint state, as previously mentioned, this issue is easier available than the two 1864 Bronze varieties. It can easily be acquired in all grades up to MS-64, gets scarce in MS-65 and very rare in MS-66. With full Mint red surfaces, all pieces are scarce but available up to MS-64. MS-65 Red pieces are rare, and MS-66 extremely rare. There are less than a dozen pieces correctly graded at that grade, and they have been bringing more than $25,000 at auction over the last few years.

The proof coin of this date is the other way around. These are actually scarcer than the 1864 no L proofs, but do not bring the same price. This is again due to the fact that type set collectors have much more subsequent issues to choose from, made in later years and often in better quality. Yet, high grade examples are still rare, and always in demand.

Even more than the business strike, pieces with full Mint red color are exceptionally rare. Many were hold in cotton, or envelopes. As a result, over many years, these pieces have toned to various colors except the original Mint red pieces.

The most desirable issues are those with full red colors, as explained above. In other colors, especially with nice appeal, these are rare as well. In gem, with any color designation this is a perfect coin that will hold its value for a longer period. Full proof sets of this series are becoming more popular, and as a result collectors have to include this issue.

The 1865 Bronze cent ends a series of cents struck during the Civil War. Different types were struck, in different metal compositions. Scarcity of the respective issues is different from year to year and grade from grade. As usual, the best pieces are those that are sharply struck from fresh dies. These will show the most detail and will have the best eye-appeal. However, these will not be easy to find and intensive searching will be required for all these Civil War issues. In the end, a full set of Civil War cents will make for a very attractive display, whether in circulated, uncirculated or proof grades.


1865 Indian Head Cent - Information on 1865 Indian Head Cent - Civil War Coins

US Rare Coin Investments 2003 - 2015 U.S. Rare Coin Investments

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