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Thread: Indian Head Cents

  1. #1
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    Indian Head Cents

    This has been a question of mine for a long time. Most IHP are the same size standard and composition as the vast majority of wheat cents yet a metal detector identifies they with a considerable difference. Why?

    For reference, I use the DFX. Wheat cents fall between 75-80 (typically) while IHP's are 55-60.

  2. #2
    Elite Member Digger_O'Dell's Avatar
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    It's been my experience that IHs ring up about the same as wheats in comparable condition. Really corroded coins tend to ring up much lower. I've had really corroded zincolns ring up as low as a 12-20 on the CTX where there are normally 12-43. I've had wheats and indians both range from 12-30 all the way up to 12-44. My best guess is ground composition, corrosion, halo effect, nearby iron, orientation in the ground, or inconsistent composition. I think any or a combination of those factors will cause differences in readings.
    Equipment:
    Minelab: CTX 3030, GPX 4800, X-Terra 705. Whites TDI SL.

    2017 -Silver 28 Bling 18 Gold 2
    2018 Silver 8 Bling 1 Gold 1
    2019 Silver 7 Silver bling 2
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    Best finds: 28 silver dime spill, 1800s Dutch customs seal.
    Oldest/best coin: 1837 Upper Canada large cent
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    Elite Member Digger Don's Avatar
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    To the best of my knowledge, Indians are made out of bronze just like the two cent piece.
    Oldest Coin: 1699 William III Halfpenny
    SILVER COINS
    Life Time 884

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  4. #4
    That's actually a really good question. They have the exact same weight and composition, yet Indian Head Cents almost always ring up lower.
    Lifetime totals:
    9 Large Cents, 405 Indian Heads, 2 Two Cent Pieces, 1 Capped Bust Half Dime, 1 Seated Half Dime, 10 Shield Nickels, 67 V Nickels, 122 Buffalo Nickels, 31 War Nickels, 16 Seated Dimes, 129 Barber Dimes, 391 Mercury Dimes, 242 Rosies, 4 Seated Quarters, 17 Barber Quarters, 17 Standing Liberty Quarters, 87 Silver Washingtons, 1 Seated Half, 3 Barber Halves, 16 Walking Liberty Halves

    YouTube Channel: Tony Two-Cent https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmz...RlHTBIU42bUORg

  5. #5
    Administrator del's Avatar
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    it is a great question and I know exactly what you mean as I use a DFX as well. Indians are generally about 10 VDI points lower than the wheatie .

    Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digger_O'Dell View Post
    It's been my experience that IHs ring up about the same as wheats in comparable condition. Really corroded coins tend to ring up much lower. I've had really corroded zincolns ring up as low as a 12-20 on the CTX where there are normally 12-43. I've had wheats and indians both range from 12-30 all the way up to 12-44. My best guess is ground composition, corrosion, halo effect, nearby iron, orientation in the ground, or inconsistent composition. I think any or a combination of those factors will cause differences in readings.
    Yes, these factors do play a role in the in-ground readings but I find the detector readings in air tests to differ after the dig also. I am going to do some more tests with non-dug coins and see if anything changes but, so far, the results have not shown any similarity between wheats and IHP signals!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digger Don View Post
    To the best of my knowledge, Indians are made out of bronze just like the two cent piece.
    Yes, that is correct. Bronze replaced the 88%Cu/12%Ni composition used on the earlier Flying Eagle and first couple years of IHP and was also used for the two-cent coin.

  8. #8
    Veteran Member Bucknut's Avatar
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    I have read in many places that Indians are made out of Bronze (95% copper and 5% tin) and that wheat pennies are made out of 95% copper and 5% zinc. So they do not have exactly the same metal composition and that is why they ring up differently.

    But I have also noticed that a fair amount of the early wheats that I find tend to ring up in the indian range of VDI numbers on my Etrac detector. My guess is the mints had surplus amounts of planchets left over from the days of making the indian head penny and went ahead and used them up on the new wheat penny.

    I also have noticed that wheats from 1944-1958 ring up a notch higher than the older wheats. I can't prove it with out doing a metallurgy test for composition (although my company does these sorts of things all of the time for our product we make) but I think that there is a slight difference in the composition between the 1944-1958 wheats and the older wheats.
    Detectors I use: Minelab Equinox 800 x2
    2021 Season Totals:
    Clad: $75.55
    Indians: 33
    Wheaties: 212
    Silver: 71
    Silver jewelry: 8
    Gold jewelry: 3
    Favorite 2021 find: Indian Trade ring spill

  9. #9
    According to the Red Book, bronze Indian Head Cents and Wheat Cents were both .950 copper, .050 tin and zinc and weigh 3.11 grams.

    The composition of Wheat Cents was changed to .950 copper and .050 zinc from 1944-1946. (No tin.)

    From 1947-1958 the composition was changed back to .950 copper and .050 tin and zinc.

    It could be possible that the ratio of tin and zinc differs between Indian Heads and Wheat Cents, causing them to ring up differently.
    Lifetime totals:
    9 Large Cents, 405 Indian Heads, 2 Two Cent Pieces, 1 Capped Bust Half Dime, 1 Seated Half Dime, 10 Shield Nickels, 67 V Nickels, 122 Buffalo Nickels, 31 War Nickels, 16 Seated Dimes, 129 Barber Dimes, 391 Mercury Dimes, 242 Rosies, 4 Seated Quarters, 17 Barber Quarters, 17 Standing Liberty Quarters, 87 Silver Washingtons, 1 Seated Half, 3 Barber Halves, 16 Walking Liberty Halves

    YouTube Channel: Tony Two-Cent https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmz...RlHTBIU42bUORg

  10. #10
    (18591864) 88% copper, 12% nickel
    (18641909) 95% copper, 5% tin or zinc


    the early ones had nickle, you remember the early ones ringing in funny, the newer ones ring in like the old wheaties

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Two-Cent View Post

    It could be possible that the ratio of tin and zinc differs between Indian Heads and Wheat Cents, causing them to ring up differently.
    This is about the best explanation I could come up with too.

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