1897 Indian Head cents are quite common and are usually encountered in mixed-date rolls of Indian Head cents. They’re also easily found at most coin shops that deal with 19th- and 20th-century U.S. coinage. 1897 pennies are usually bought by coin collectors who are assembling type sets and those who are completing a series collection of Indian Head pennies. 1897 Indian Head pennies are also widely pursued by those who may not necessarily consider themselves coin collectors but nevertheless want an inexpensive example of this classic American coin.
1897 Indian Head cents were made in large numbers. 50,466,330 were struck, and they retail for $2 in a grade of Good-4. In addition to the 50+ million business strikes, 1,938 proofs were made. Choice specimens are worth $1,600.
The “Indian Head” name of this penny design is actually a misnomer. In fact, the figure represents Miss Liberty and was modeled after Sarah Longacre, the young daughter of James B. Longacre, the coin’s designer. He served as Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1844 until his death in 1869. In addition to 1897 Indian Head pennies, Longacre also became well known for designing the two-cent piece, which in 1864 became the first U.S. coin to bear the motto IN GOD WE TRUST.