Ed. note: This article is periodically updated to reflect the current price of most valuable coins.
The pennies are certainly one of the most collected American coins (old coins worth money 2023 list) in the U.S. Due to their common circulation (because of their low value) they are usually found quite worn, which is why factors such as conservation are important for their price to be higher.
Rare 1906 Penny Value Chart
Coleccionistasdemonedas.com Estimated Value of 1906 Penny is:
|Type of patina||MS60||MS61||MS62||MS63||MS64||MS65||MS66||MS67|
|1906 Indian Head Penny BN (brown)||$40||$45||$55-60||$75-78||$100-115||$150||$-||$-|
|1906 Indian Head Penny RB (red and brown)||$50||$55||$60-65||$85-100||$125-150||$250-275||$450-850||$-|
|1906 Indian Head Penny RD (red)||$-||$-||$-||$150-185||$260-300||$650-750||$1,650-2,650||$24,000|
In the table you can see the prices in “MS” mintages that correspond to uncirculated coins. However, if you want a more affordable coin you can buy a G (good) quality starting at 2$, and a medium-high quality AU-50 at around 22$.
However, these pennies can fetch upwards of $20,000 in cases of exceptional examples, such as this 1906 Indian Head Penny MS67 RD auctioned by Heritage Auctions, with a record price of $27,000, described as “essentially perfect.”
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What do the letters BN, RB and RD stand for?
Within the Indian Head penny, patina is a factor of great importance. Also certain errors can greatly increase their value due to their scarcity and their high demand by collectors. A little further down you have a more detailed explanation with examples.
A little history about the 1906 Indian cents
Indian Head pennies, also called Indian cents, were minted between 1859 and 1909. The vast majority were produced at the Philadelphia mint, hence in cases such as the 1906 Indian Head Penny there is no mint mark (factory), however, there are in the last years of issue of this design specimens minted in San Francisco and marked on the reverse with the mint mark S.
The design was carried out by James Barton Longacre, the same designer of the Flying Eagle Cents, i.e. the previous type.
The significance of the Flying Eagle Cents is its change from a 100% copper coin to a 12% nickel coin. This change was due to the increase in value of copper due to the depreciation of gold found in large quantities during the California Gold Rush, an event of great importance in the United States.
1906 indian cents composition
Like the Flying Eagle Cents the early Indian Head Penny was also composed of 88% copper and weighed in at 4.70g, but the Civil War meant that the other percent of nickel was required for the war. The congressional solution came in 1864, reducing the weight of our Indian Head Penny, but increasing its copper content.
So, from then until the end of the issue of this coin, it has 95% copper and 5% tin and Zinc, removing the nickel from the alloy. This is the case of our coin of interest, the 1906 Indian Head Penny which, like the others, has a weight of 3.11g.
How do I know the grade of my 1906 Indian Head Penny?
To know the state of conservation of the coin we own or want to buy we need to have an expert eye that we can hardly acquire without time of experience. That is why it is not a bad idea to turn to TPG (Third Party Gradding Service). These are companies dedicated to evaluate and give a score to our coins according to the state in which they are. In addition, they certify the authenticity and encapsulate the coin for security, both for its preservation and to facilitate its sale.
The higher the graduation the price grows exponentially, as it is a factor of great importance, especially in coins that tend to circulate a lot, as is the case of the cents, which is why this service is highly recommended.
Importance of the 1906 pennies’ Patina
The 1906 Indian Head Penny is very plentiful, with a print run of 96,020,530 coins. In addition, there are not several mints for their manufacture, a typical factor that distinguishes American coins in terms of price. It is therefore necessary to look at other differences to determine a higher or lower value.
The main one is the quality, as in any other coin, as we will see later on, but now we are going to talk about the patina.
The patina is, simply explained, the tone or color of the coin. Specifically, it is the result of the oxidation of the metal by contact with air and other elements that causes one or another color. An original patina, generated by the years of “life” of the coin, is highly valued by collectors, so you should never clean a coin without consulting an expert, since in most cases you will greatly diminish its value.
In the 1906 Indian Head Penny, because of its high copper content (95%), there are three different patinas mostly. These are collected by three different abbreviations, BN, RB and RD. Each one is more complex to find than the previous one, which is why the price increases due to the difficulty.
- BN: This patina is brown, and is the most common of the three, visually it is the one that looks the most aged and, in fact, is the color that copper coins normally take on over time. You can check your current pennies and see how many have this dark, yet attractive color.
In some specimens little circulated still with this patina can be seen greenish or bluish colors, normal in this metal, which make it much more striking.
- RB: This is the abbreviation for Red and Brown, i.e., like the previous patina, it is a brown specimen, but retains the typical reddish tones of a newly minted copper coin.
It is the result of a better environmental conservation, or at least with less exposure to humidity and oxygen than the previous one, regardless of whether a BN has hardly circulated, but has been stored in a humid place.
This makes it a bit rarer than the previous one and therefore costs a bit more money.
It is the most expensive patina of the three, being the most appreciated by collectors.
To preserve the actual patina of our coins it is important to keep them in a stable and controlled place. That is why certified capsules are a wonderful option both for this and to know the grade as we will see below.
Which 1906 Indian head penny is rare?
In addition to the characteristics seen above, such as quality and patina, which can drive up the price of 1906 Indian Head Penny, there are certain variations or errors in the design that make them especially rare.
To find out what variations exist, numismatist Richard Snow wrote a reference book for the Indian Head Penny. To do this he numbered the variations next to his surname. This is why when we see “Snow-15” at an auction, he is referring to that error.
You can check the list of errors in the Red Book of the Flying Eagles and Indian Head Cents. This book includes prices, although they are not updated.
As an example of these errors, this 1906 Indian Head Penny auctioned by Heritage Auctions with MS66 RD quality has an error catalogued as “Snow-20“. This error consists of an over-accumulation of the date 1906 over the previous year, that is to say, the 6 over the 5. Its sale price was $2,820, a good example of a mix of quality and rarity (source).
If you find something out of the ordinary in your coin don’t hesitate to consult an expert, they can advise you on the potential price of your 1906 Indian Head Penny.
Conclusions on the 1906 Indian Head Penny
As mentioned at the beginning, pennies are widely collected, and are a great way to get started in collecting. In particular the Indian Head Penny are visually beautiful, are priced well and are also of great historical significance. They were the pennies of the Civil War and although they stopped being minted in 1909, the Indian cent circulated for many more years.
The 1906 Indian Head Penny is common, so it’s a good option to start by having a nice one at an affordable price.
You can expand your collection by year or try to get the complete 1906 “portfolio” if it is a special year for you, that is, all the coins of different values that were minted in that year.
Numismatic collector with special interest in the history of Spain.
Graduated in Labor Relations and Human Resources. I have been trained in numismatics by the University of Murcia. I am a specialist in Spanish currency (from the Catholic Kings to today), euros and large silver modules.