Being one of the newer Indian Head Pennies produced, the 1896 edition is not nearly as scarce as some of its earlier counterparts. With that being said, collectors who are constantly on the hunt for coins in pristine condition will find that uncovering a well-preserved 1896 Indian Head is not such a simple task.
Despite being well over 100 years old, the 1896 Indian Head Penny is one edition that saw a lot of coins survive the years. Because they were very heavily circulated, however, the condition of the piece is never a guarantee.
For collectors, a coin’s grade means absolutely everything. Realistically, the grade of the coin is nothing more than an official assessment of the coin’s condition. Typically, in order to get a coin graded it is required that you mail it away to a professional grading company; a process that can take weeks on end and be very expensive.
For those who may not need to have a coin graded, but would simply like to know more about the grades and what they mean, the specifications below can take you a long way.
Uncirculated: If you have an Uncirculated 1896 Indian Head Penny you are in possession of a coin that was never used to buy goods or pay for anything. Instead, shortly after being minted the coin was preserved and kept from the wear and tear associated with the daily exchange of hands coins usually undergo. Apart from some of the luster fading, these coins are in great shape and have no scratching or chipping.
Extremely Fine: An Extremely Fine Indian Head Penny will show some signs of wear, but for the most part will appear to be pristine. These coins saw only a very limited amount of time in circulation so, apart from some minor scratching, you will not notice anything majorly wrong with the coin. The imagery and texture will be wholly intact.
Fine: A coin deserving of a Fine grade is one that saw a good bit of time being exchanged. These coins will show a good amount of scratching as seen in the wear on the imagery and inscriptions. Despite some decent signs of wear, these coins are still fairly attractive and will have retained at least some of the original texture.
Good: This grade is given to the Indian Heads that saw the most time in circulation. These coins will show ample signs of wear and tear, including scratching, chipping, and anything else you can think of. Because so many 1896 Indian Head Pennies were minted, those graded Good are not all that difficult to find.
For any Indian Head, the process of pricing the coin is as easy as looking at the condition/checking the grade. Naturally, the collector is willing to pay a much higher price for a well-preserved coin than he or she is for one that is in pretty rough shape. Fortunately, many 1896 Indian Heads survived the years, meaning that even well-preserved pieces will not break the bank. The chart below offers up the average price 1896 Indian Heads will sell for across different grades.
1896 Indian Head Penny
|1896||$3||$5||$15||$25||Source: Red Book|