There are many rare coins like silver coins, Chinese coins, copper coins, etc. If we take a look at the history of commemorative coins, we can get information regarding the glorious past of the coin minting industry. In the following paragraphs I have tried to shed light on some rare coins from the illustrious past and that are a collector’s delight. Given below is a list of rare American pennies of the last 150 to 200 years.
The Fugio cent or first penny was issued in 1787, under the authority of Congress. ‘Franklin’, ‘Ring’, ‘Mind Your Business’, ‘Sun Dial’, etc. are some names by which the first penny was known. The minting of this penny was carried out at James Jarvis’ mint, New Haven, Connecticut. One side of the penny has the motif of a sun dial with an engraving ‘FUGIO’. Fugio in Latin means “I fly”, referring to the passage of time. The reverse side of the penny has an inscription of the colonies, represented by a circle of links, with the words, ‘UNITED STATES – WE ARE ONE’, at the center. This penny is made of pure copper, believed to be provided by Paul Revere, an American silversmith and a patriot of the American Revolution.
Indian Head Penny
The Indian Head penny is a one cent coin created by the United States mint. It was in circulation from 1859 till 1909. This penny was designed by James Barton Longacre, an engraver at the Philadelphia Mint. One side of this penny shows an Indian head, believed to be of a princess, wearing a feather bonnet. It has the words ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’ and ‘LIBERTY’ engraved on the band across the bonnet. The reverse side of the coin has the words ‘ONE CENT’ engraved within a wreath of laurel. In 1860, the design on the reverse side was slightly modified, replacing the laurel wreath by an oak wreath and three arrows inserted under the ribbon binding the two branches of the wreath. The shield of the United States is shown above and between the branch ends. The coins were made of 88% copper and 12% nickel. There was a popular rumor about the coin, that the engraver Mr. Longacre used his daughter as a model for the princess on the cent.
Lincoln Head or Lincoln Cent
The Lincoln Head cent was launched in 1909 to commemorate the former President’s birth anniversary. The idea of engraving Lincoln’s likeness on the penny was conceived by Theodore Roosevelt who selected Victor David Brenner, a sculptor. Brenner created Lincoln’s famous bust as the design on the coin. The coin is made of 95% copper and 5% zinc and tin. The words ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ also made its debut on the penny. Initially the design consisted of the sculptor’s initials (V.D.B.) at the bottom of Lincoln’s bust on the reverse side of the coin. Later in 1909, the initials were removed considering it to be offensive. But they again reappeared in 1918, hidden on the carving of Lincoln’s bust.
The steel cent was first minted in 1943 as a consequence of the Second World War. Due to insufficiency of copper, the US government minted these coins from zinc coated with steel. They were mostly minted in Philadelphia. These coins are lighter than the Lincoln cent and weigh just 2.70 grams as compared to the previous 3.11 grams. Due to improper zinc coating, these circulated coins would rust. As they were also magnetic, machines experienced problems while vending coins.
The penny underwent a change on the reverse side in 1959. Till 1959, this penny had the words ‘ONE CENT’, encircled by two wheat heads. But in 1959, this design was replaced by the image of the Lincoln Memorial, which is located in Washington D.C. This new design was conceived by Frank Gasparro, an engraver at the United States Mint, to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Lincoln. The initials of the engraver can be noticed in the shrubbery around the memorial. These coins were minted from 1959-1982 and the composition was changed to zinc and copper. The coin weighs 3.11 grams approximately. In 1982, the weight underwent another change and became 2.5 grams due to the copper-plated zinc composition.
The 1960 penny is a rare penny and a collector’s dream, due to some alterations in the design. The size of the dates engraved on these coins are comparatively smaller than the others. Like, in the smaller date coins, the numbers 0 and 9 in 1960 appear to be much smaller. The upper part of 6 is cut short of being vertically equal to the lower loop. The tops of the numbers 1 and 9 are horizontally equal on the small date.
1972 Double Die
This coin was created due to an error. This rare penny has a partial or doubled image. This was due to mistakes made in the process of die hubbing, where the hub duplicated or doubled the image on the coin die. A classic example of a doubled die penny is the 1955 doubled die Lincoln cent. This coin sparked numismatics as a hobby in the U.S.
In this rare coin, the percentage of copper used was higher than the earlier coins. Before 1982, the percentage of copper was higher (95%) than zinc (5%). But after 1982, due to the increase in the cost of copper, zinc (97.5%) was used more than copper (2.5%).