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When Did Indian Head Cents Effectively Disappear from Circulation?

My guess would be that by 1940 they were efffectively gone. Does anyone on this forum recall when IHC's were fairly common in circulation?

Even second-hand knowledge would work to satisfy my historical curiousity.

Also, I would assume that the generation of coin collectors that could come close to pulling a set of IHC's from circulation are gone.image

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Collector of Early 20th Century U.S. Coinage.
ANA Member R-3147111
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Comments

  • tightbudgettightbudget Posts: 7,299 ✭✭✭
    I would say that by the late fifties, maybe into the sixties that they were pretty much gone. However, through time and patience, it is still possible to pull one from change or by looking through a bazillion boxes of cents.
  • dbldie55dbldie55 Posts: 7,717 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I would think the later 40's as one of my best friends fathers pulled many out of circulation and he was born in '33 (I doubt he was looking for them before 1940). The one coin of his that sticks out for me is the '31-S cent he pulled from circulation.

    Collector and Researcher of Liberty Head Nickels. ANA LM-6053
  • RichieURichRichieURich Posts: 8,347 ✭✭✭✭✭
    A friend of mine found a Fine 1909 Indian cent this summer, and another friend found a Good 1905 a week or two ago. But I agree, they weren't around in the 1960's, don't know about before that.

    An authorized PCGS dealer, and a contributor to the Red Book.

  • we used to find a bunch during the late 50's
    "Everyday above ground is a good day"

  • DennisHDennisH Posts: 13,959 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My college daughter got a nice VF 1897 in change last year. I don't think I've ever received one.
    When in doubt, don't.
  • SwampboySwampboy Posts: 12,864 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I never saw an IHC 1959-61 on my paper route.

    Folks combing the house for change on collection day never found Indians for me.
  • tahoe98tahoe98 Posts: 11,388 ✭✭✭

    my paper route didn't yield much either image
    "government is not reason, it is not eloquence-it is a force! like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." George Washington
  • IrishMikeIrishMike Posts: 7,738 ✭✭✭
    I never found an IHC in circulation after the mid-50's.
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,442 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Found two or three in the late 50s.
    TD
    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • oxy8890oxy8890 Posts: 1,416
    I was born in 1963 and I started collecting pennies in 1968. I have never seen an indian head penny in circulation or known anyone who found one around me over the last 40 years.
    Best Regards,

    Rob


    "Those guys weren't Fathers they were...Mothers."

    image
  • mattnissmattniss Posts: 547 ✭✭✭
    I got an AG 1903 in change about two years ago in NYC at a small hole-in-the-wall food place. I couldn't believe it when I checked it out. Other than that, I don't know anyone else of my friends or family who have ever had that happen to them.
  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,859 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I don't recall ever seeing an Indian Head cent in circulation when I was a kid in the 1950's.
    All glory is fleeting.
  • tjkilliantjkillian Posts: 5,578 ✭✭✭
    I have found only one indian cent in circulation and that was in 1972 when I was going through bank rolls looking for wheat cents. It was a 1906 in Good. Wheats were rare in the early 1970s, in fact they are not more scarce today then back then. Silver was gone, as well, by 1972.

    Tom

  • pb2ypb2y Posts: 1,461
    Born in 34. Never seen one in change. Worn IHC and date-less
    nickels are knowingly spent to confound those who find them
    in their change.

    image
    image

  • Started collecting from circulation around 1966, never saw an Indian head cent, did find some Buffalo nickels but almost always with the
    date worn off (one nice exception was a 1918-S in around VG condition). Mercury dimes were still around but mostly dated in the 1940s.
    I think I found one Standing Liberty quarter with no date, never saw a Walking Liberty half dollar or any silver dollars.
  • sumnomsumnom Posts: 5,963 ✭✭✭
    I have heard of people pulling them from circulation in the 1950s. I found one in 2000 in a roll but I think a collector put it there.

    I remember in the 1970s that wheaties were quite common but I rarely see them in change anymore.
  • As a YN in the mid 50's I would find them occasionally when searching rolls. Maybe 1 IHC out of every 5 rolls.


    image
  • FrankcoinsFrankcoins Posts: 4,569 ✭✭✭
    Likely the cowboy and Indian craze among children in the early 1950s with all the kid-based TV shows such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, the Cisco Kid, resulted in the remainder of the Indian cents being pulled from circulation.
    Frank Provasek - PCGS Authorized Dealer, Life Member ANA, Member TNA. www.frankcoins.com
  • sumnomsumnom Posts: 5,963 ✭✭✭
    It seems like it took longer for the IHCs to be pulled from circulation than the wheaties. It looks like people were finding them 40+ years after production stopped but, in my experience, the wheaties were largely gone about 20 years after they were discontinued.
  • lordmarcovanlordmarcovan Posts: 43,194 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My Dad claims to have found IHC and even a Flying Eagle or two in circulation in the 1950s.

    A coin book I have from 1953 talks about how one can find Shield nickels in circulation.

    Explore collections of lordmarcovan on CollecOnline, management, safe-keeping, sharing and valuation solution for art piece and collectibles.
  • Walkerguy21DWalkerguy21D Posts: 11,072 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>Born in 34. Never seen one in change. >>



    My father, likewise, was born in 1934. Though he never collected coins, he always had an interest in my collection. He had a paper route, scrounged pop bottles, etc. and told me on more than one occasion that he had gotten very few indian head cents over the years.
    On a related note, my grandfather, long since passed, was born in 1909. I remember talking coins with him many years ago, and told him it must have been interesting back then, to have been around when all those gold coins were in circulation. He thought that was pretty funny, as he had never seen gold coins in general circulation.....apparently it was not readily available to the middle class in the Midwest even before 1933.
    Greg
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  • BBNBBN Posts: 3,761 ✭✭✭
    I found a buffalo nickel 1936 in the late 80s. Given as change from a McDonald's. In 2000 I got 7 mercs back as change at a gas station. I asked the attendant if they had more and I'd take all they had. In the end I walked out of that place with 47 mercury dimes. Most likely a collection that had been stolen. When silver was discontinued my dad started hoarding all the silver he could get his hands on in the 60s. I saw the hoard he had before he cashed it in a few years ago and there were 3-4 Barber halves, several Walkers and 3-4 dateless SLQs and several mercs. All that pulled from circulation given to him in change

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  • cladkingcladking Posts: 28,265 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Most of the coins people find long after they are out of circulation
    are ones that get inadvertantly put back in. There are no indians
    that have been circulating continuously. The odds against it simply
    become staggering after only a very few years.

    There weren't "really" any when I started in 1957. Sure, there was
    the oddball that was seen now and then but these were invariably
    damaged or extremely worn common dates.

    Most of the older coins were pretty heavily picked over by about 1940
    but higher denominations could still circulate since a lot of people
    couldn't afford to set them aside. During WWII the economy heated
    up substantially and by 1945 it's a safe bet 100% of the better date
    as well as the vast majority of all undamaged indians were gone.

    This is just a guess and it would vary a little across the country but
    probably fewer than 1% of circulating cents were indians by 1945 and
    a large percentage were culls.
    Tempus fugit.
  • ziggy29ziggy29 Posts: 18,668 ✭✭✭
    I've read that IHCs started really vanishing from circulation by the 1930s, but as recently as the '50s a few could be found.

    In some places it was later. My dad was stationed in Puerto Rico from 1961 to 1963 and he found quite a few IHCs in change down there, as well as Liberty nickels and Buffs, Mercs, SLQ, Walkers and a few Barber coins. It was filling out the Whitman albums from the change he received there which got him started collecting.


  • Ipulled a nice 1907 out of my pocket change about a year ago . image
  • UtahCoinUtahCoin Posts: 5,345 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My mother was a bank teller in the mid to late 1940's and saved them when she found them. She had about 100 of them, most dated in the 1900's . I would guess, as others have said, by the 50's they were gone except for the occasional oddball.
    I used to be somebody, now I'm just a coin collector.
    Recipient of the coveted "You Suck" award, April 2009 for cherrypicking a 1833 CBHD LM-5, and April 2022 for a 1835 LM-12, and again in Aug 2012 for picking off a 1952 FS-902.
  • SmallSizedGuySmallSizedGuy Posts: 503 ✭✭✭
    I think it depended on the area of the country you lived in. My mother, from Milwaukee, does not remember any IHC in circulation in the mid-1940s. My father, from Tennessee, said he remembers seeing them frequently in the south until the mid-1950s.

    Jim Hodgson



    Collector of US Small Size currency, Atlanta FRNs, and Georgia nationals since 1977. Researcher of small size US type - seeking serial number data for all FRN star notes, Series 1928 to 1934-D. Life member SPMC.



  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I would frequently receive IHC's on my paper route in the 50's... Had a lot of older customers who, I believe, had coin bottles or boxes and would use them to pay the 8 cents for the paper. Cheers, RickO
  • UtahCoinUtahCoin Posts: 5,345 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>I would frequently receive IHC's on my paper route in the 50's... Had a lot of older customers who, I believe, had coin bottles or boxes and would use them to pay the 8 cents for the paper. Cheers, RickO >>



    When I collected on my paper route, it was $1.75 a month, and I most often got a quarter tip. Ahh, those were the days, 188 papers to deliver every day, for that I earned about $30 a month.
    I used to be somebody, now I'm just a coin collector.
    Recipient of the coveted "You Suck" award, April 2009 for cherrypicking a 1833 CBHD LM-5, and April 2022 for a 1835 LM-12, and again in Aug 2012 for picking off a 1952 FS-902.
  • sumnomsumnom Posts: 5,963 ✭✭✭
    I had a paper route as well but I sure didn't delivery 188 paper per day! How did you do it?

    In order to keep this OT (on topic), I did once get an AU 1943 dime as a tip on the paper route. This about 1978, I think.
  • UtahCoinUtahCoin Posts: 5,345 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>I had a paper route as well but I sure didn't delivery 188 paper per day! How did you do it?

    >>



    On a bike. Rack on the back, rack on the front, bags over my shoulders, basket in front of the handle bars. And two trips as I recall. Keep in mind, this was NOT the L.A. Times... It was the Santa Barbara News-Press, probably not more than 1" thick when folded. To stay on topic, every dime, quarter and half I got was 90% silver!
    I used to be somebody, now I'm just a coin collector.
    Recipient of the coveted "You Suck" award, April 2009 for cherrypicking a 1833 CBHD LM-5, and April 2022 for a 1835 LM-12, and again in Aug 2012 for picking off a 1952 FS-902.
  • SLQSLQ Posts: 311 ✭✭


    << <i>Most of the coins people find long after they are out of circulation
    are ones that get inadvertantly put back in. There are no indians
    that have been circulating continuously. The odds against it simply
    become staggering after only a very few years.
    >>



    I agree with this.

    I remember as a kid in the 60's spending some common date buffalo nickels from my collection. I needed new goldfish.

    As a bank teller in the early 80's I noticed that the senior citizens were the most likely to deposit very old currency and sometimes coins. I'm sure the civil war token I got back them was not circulating for 120 years.

    I agree that some coins just take a break from circulation, and that break can be very long.
  • sumnomsumnom Posts: 5,963 ✭✭✭
    UtahCoin,

    My route was never more than 62 customers and that was more than I could handle.

    I got a fair amount fo silver on the route but not as much as you did!
  • pocketpiececommemspocketpiececommems Posts: 5,702 ✭✭✭✭✭
    In the late 50's /early 60's my dad would get $50 bags of pennies from the bank for us to look through. We would find and occasional IHC then. These were bags that were turned into the bank from a guy that ran the penny gumball route. One of the first things that we would do when the bag was opened was to stick a magnet into it to see how many steel cents would stick to it.

    Those were the days.
  • I would say that finding a IHC in change in 1940 was unusual (and I was looking then). Perhaps it would be about on a par with finding a wheat cent today (and I still find these). About three years ago, I got an IHC in change from the grocery store. It wasn't in too bad a condition except quite dark. That was the first one I found in change in decades.
  • OneCentOneCent Posts: 3,561


    << <i>I would say that finding a IHC in change in 1940 was unusual (and I was looking then). Perhaps it would be about on a par with finding a wheat cent today (and I still find these). About three years ago, I got an IHC in change from the grocery store. It wasn't in too bad a condition except quite dark. That was the first one I found in change in decades. >>



    That is interesting. If finding an IHC was unusual in 1940 then one can suppose that most were gone pretty soon after they ceased being minted. Pure speculation, but I would say that finding one in circulation in 1920 was probably not common.

    My Pop, who was born in 1906, who enjoyed collecting from circulation never had many IHC's in his Maxwell House Coffee Can. He probably would have started picking IHC's out around 1915 or so.

    I think that cladking is right. The vast majority of IHC's disappeared from circulation within several years of their demise. Also, to be plucking them out of circulation with a decent opportunity of putting together a full set you would have to been born around 1890. Clearly a generation that has passed.

    imageimage
    Collector of Early 20th Century U.S. Coinage.
    ANA Member R-3147111
  • JoesMaNameJoesMaName Posts: 1,061 ✭✭✭
    I had a paper rout in the early 70's the best coin find from it was an unc 1942 mercury dime. I also received 4 or 5 Roosevelt dimes, a few war nickels and one or two 40% Kennedy halves, but I've never received an Indian head penny from circulation.
    I've put at least two into circulation just for the fun of it, a flying eagle and a couple liberty heads nickels too image
    All corroded good to fine detail examples - wonder how far they got. I use to like spending Ikes too - till I ran out...
    Paul - saved by
    The Fireman...
  • cladkingcladking Posts: 28,265 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>

    That is interesting. If finding an IHC was unusual in 1940 then one can suppose that most were gone pretty soon after they ceased being minted. Pure speculation, but I would say that finding one in circulation in 1920 was probably not common.

    My Pop, who was born in 1906, who enjoyed collecting from circulation never had many IHC's in his Maxwell House Coffee Can. He probably would have started picking IHC's out around 1915 or so.

    I think that cladking is right. The vast majority of IHC's disappeared from circulation within several years of their demise. Also, to be plucking them out of circulation with a decent opportunity of putting together a full set you would have to been born around 1890. Clearly a generation that has passed. >>



    I didn't intend to imply this.

    Coin collecting didn't become widely popular until the great depression. Many people weren't working or were underemployed so they had a lot of time on their hands. There were several promoters including B Max Mehl and W Raymond who were encouraging people to look at their coins and to fill folders. it was during this era that setting aside rolls of new coins became more popular as well.

    One has to assume that a lot of the indians disappeared between 1930 and 1940. Before this there would have been natural attrition and probably significant public and collector induced "attrition" as well. Lots of coins get destroyed naturally over long periods of time and this will apply especially to lower denominations.
    Tempus fugit.
  • The record for continously circulating coins must be Switzerland. In 1881 they started coining 20 rappen coins of pure nickel. They switched to copper-nickel in 1939 and were still coining them in 1989 with the same design as 1881. Nickel coins wear well. About 1965 a friend picked some 1880's dated coins out of circulation for me and they looked like almost new. A few years later, coin collecting became popular in Switzerland so the old ones probably disappered then.

    I used to find top quality 1922 pure nickel five cents of Canada in circulation in both Canada and Maine, but they also vanished in the 1960"s along with the restr of the George V heads.
  • lordmarcovanlordmarcovan Posts: 43,194 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I just culled out six from a collection I bought, so I predict one or two less-than-perfect 1880-something IHCs are gonna REappear in circulation soon. image

    PS, re. the previous post: I have always thought the Swiss rappen coinage were neat, and certainly they have to be contenders, if not the outright winners, of the longest-lived coin designs in world history. They're quite an attractive design, too. (For you Litesiders who aren't familiar, they're vaguely reminiscent of the US Liberty nickel, but with a prettier female head. Definitely a product of their time.) I have a ton of them but no pix of any.

    Explore collections of lordmarcovan on CollecOnline, management, safe-keeping, sharing and valuation solution for art piece and collectibles.
  • CoxeCoxe Posts: 11,139
    I think I saw the very occasional one up until around 1970, but they were hardly really circulating at that time. Buffalo nickels were around more frequently.

    The best coins were gotten when I would go collecting on my paper route (the long gone Phila Bulletin) and people would, more often than one would expect, hit the coin accumulation jars and old coin albums.
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  • Cladking mentioned that a person would have to be born in 1890 to stand a chance of pulling together a complete collection of Indian head Cents. I knew a person that almost fit the description. She was the grandmother of a school chum. She wanted a penny from her birth year forward and suceeded. She must have started as a young girl. It was a unique experience for me to see bright red new Indian Head cents. It was a shame she didn't want to collect 1877's in her earlier days.

    To better put my previous post in perspective, I should point out I was only 5 years old in 1940. Do not underestimate my powers of observation then. However, I was limited in the amount of coins I examined. My father had a change purse and I looked through it very regularily. Any Indian Head Cent I found, I could keep. By 1945 I had half a dozen of them. So we must have found just over 1 a year initially.

    By 1947 I was collecting Lincolns by date and mint and searching rolls. I don't think I ever found an Indian in a roll. I bought Whitman folders at this time. This was very frustrating. I ended up with a part 1 stopping in 1941 and part 2 starting in 1947. There were no coin dealers in Bangor, so I mailed ordered from a dealer in Waterville. He was out of stock and sent me a buffalo folder instead. My elder half brother finally bailed me out.

    By 1952 I was setting aside unc rolls of current cents. In 1953 I saw no new rolls and in 1954 the rolls of new cents were mixed 1953 and 1954 dates.
  • DoubleEagle59DoubleEagle59 Posts: 8,143 ✭✭✭✭✭
    In the mid sixties, my Father brought home the 'money box' from his work every Friday night (that's how I started collecting coins).

    Being in Canada, there wasn't a lot of US coins. We did however find the odd very worn standing Lib. quarter, walking half, but never an IHC.

    To give you an idea of what could still be found in Canadian circulation, we did however find AG to VG Canadian dimes and quarters spanning the years from 1900 to 1936 (Queen Victoria, King Edward and GeorgeV years).

    I'd say about half of them had the dates worn off; the best grades were probably VG. It's difficult to remember, but I do recall scotch taping these coins in a paper notebook (my first coin collection!!).
    "Gold is money, and nothing else" (JP Morgan, 1912)

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  • The closing of the San Francisco mint in 1955 turned the nation "on" to coins.

    From that date onward, it got very rare to find an IHC in circulation.

    Prior to that time, I was able to partially fill a Meghrig board with most of the late common ones from circ.

  • I have collected coins since 1961 as a kid. My dad would get $50 bags that we'd go through [including parking meter pennies] and I never saw a single Indian penny come though anything until 1976 when I found my first Indian penny [an 1894] come out of a roll I got from a grocery store. The cashier handed out some pre-1940 pennies in change and upon further inquiry she had 4 more rolls where those came from which I bought. There were a lot of steel pennies in there as well some with mint luster. I started an honor box vending business in 1987 [which I still do]. I have since found 3 or 4 more Indian pennies. The last one was a 1898 which I found in 2004 or 2005. Incredibly all of the Indian pennies I found were from the 1800s including another 1894. I found my 1931-s in 2009. I also found an 1831 liberty bust half dollar in VF [which was unfortunately stolen] and an 1877 seated liberty dime among other goodies such as a couple Morgan dollars that only could show up in an honor box. I still got a silver coin a day even into the early-mid part of the 2000-zeros. Today I'm lucky to get one once every 3 months. Wheat stalk pennies were fairly easy to find on my route throughout the 2000-zeros as well and I still find an occasional wheat penny even now. I believe the advent of the state quarter series brought coin collecting into the mainstream and now makes it near impossible to find anything numismatic now.

  • Manifest_DestinyManifest_Destiny Posts: 3,047 ✭✭✭✭✭

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,536 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 24, 2024 2:59PM

    Well, the new OP was actually very interesting. 🤔

  • FrazFraz Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I found two IHCs in a hundred bank rolls last week.

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