Tell me more! Civil War Penny Value?

FiremarshalBill

Private
Joined
Feb 4, 2016
Many years ago (1967) I bought 5 Civil War Indian Head Pennies dated 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865 and mounted them in a small glass covered frame. I put the small collection of coins in a storage box and forgot about them for the next 50 years. Finding them again recently, it got me to thinking... what was the value of a copper penny during the war? Could a Civil War soldier or civilian actually buy anything with a penny? Were Indian Head pennies in wide circulation during the war?

I am thinking about selling or trading the collection for some other ACW item (I've got enough bullets). The 1864 and 1865 pennies are in "Fair" condition, the other three are in slightly better "Good" condition. All dates clearly visible. Anyone interested in a trade?

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James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
Many years ago (1967) I bought 5 Civil War Indian Head Pennies dated 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865 and mounted them in a small glass covered frame. I put the small collection of coins in a storage box and forgot about them for the next 50 years. Finding them again recently, it got me to thinking... what was the value of a copper penny during the war? Could a Civil War soldier or civilian actually buy anything with a penny? Were Indian Head pennies in wide circulation during the war?
Remember the old denomination penny candy at dry goods and other stores? I think sheets of writing paper and other "notions" could be had for pennies, and stamps weren't much more, two or three cents.
 

Sbc

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Location
Easley, South Carolina
Many years ago (1967) I bought 5 Civil War Indian Head Pennies dated 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865 and mounted them in a small glass covered frame. I put the small collection of coins in a storage box and forgot about them for the next 50 years. Finding them again recently, it got me to thinking... what was the value of a copper penny during the war? Could a Civil War soldier or civilian actually buy anything with a penny? Were Indian Head pennies in wide circulation during the war?

I am thinking about selling or trading the collection for some other ACW item (I've got enough bullets). The 1864 and 1865 pennies are in "Fair" condition, the other three are in slightly better "Good" condition. All dates clearly visible. Anyone interested in a trade?

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View attachment 335946
Check 2019 Red Book for current value. It provides a quick guide to grading this coin series. A decent magnifying glass will help with the task.
 

connecticut yankee

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 2, 2017
Here you go....
(Data taken from several sources)



QUANTITYITEMAVERAGE RETAIL PRICE
GROCERIES1860187018801890
BarrelFlour, wheat, super-fine$7.61$10.75$8.03$9.92
BarrelFlour, wheat, family$7.14$12.75$7.96$8.57
PoundFlour, rye$0.03$0.03$0.04$0.05
PoundCorn meal$0.02$0.01$0.02$0.04
PoundCodfish, dry$0.05$0.08$0.06$0.08
PoundRice$0.07$0.11$0.09$0.10
QuartBeans$0.08$0.09$0.08$0.13
PoundTea, oolong$0.54$0.69$0.60$0.58
PoundCoffee, Rio, green$0.21$0.34$0.23$0.19
PoundCoffee, roasted$0.23$0.42$0.26$0.29
PoundSugar, good brown$0.08$0.10$0.08$0.10
PoundSugar, coffee$0.09$0.10$0.09$0.10
PoundSugar, granulated$0.10$0.12$0.10$0.11
GallonMolasses, New Orleans$0.50$0.70$0.57$0.67
GallonMolasses, Porto Rico$0.57$0.76$0.68$0.63
GallonSyrup$0.63$0.75$0.86$0.77
PoundSoap, common$0.08$0.08$0.08$0.07
PoundStarch$0.11$0.12$0.10$0.09

QUANTITYITEMAVERAGE RETAIL PRICE
PROVISIONS1860187018801890
PoundBeef, roasting$0.11$0.19$0.14$0.17
PoundBeef, soup$0.04$0.07$0.05$0.06
PoundBeef, rump steak$0.14$0.29$0.21$0.21
PoundBeef, corned$0.06$0.10$0.08$0.10
PoundVeal, fore-quarter$0.07$0.10$0.10$0.11
PoundVeal, hind-quarter$0.11$0.17$0.16$0.15
PoundVeal, cutlets$0.14$0.28$0.20$0.20
PoundMutton, fore-quarter$0.07$0.10$0.10$0.12
PoundMutton, leg$0.12$0.19$0.17$0.16
PoundMutton, chops$0.13$0.15$0.19$0.18
PoundPork, fresh$0.11$0.12$0.10$0.13
PoundPork, salted$0.11$0.11$0.10$0.13
PoundHams, smoked$0.13$0.13$0.13$0.15
PoundShoulders, corned$0.08$0.10$0.09$0.12
PoundSausages$0.11$0.12$0.11$0.14
PoundLard$0.13$0.12$0.11$0.15
PoundMackerel, pickled$0.09$0.13$0.13$0.13
PoundButter$0.21$0.39$0.25$0.35
PoundCheese$0.13$0.17$0.12$0.18
BushelPotatoes$0.59$1.02$0.98$1.26
QuartMilk$0.04$0.08$0.05$0.06
DozenEggs$0.20$0.30$0.25$0.40

QUANTITYITEMAVERAGE RETAIL PRICE
FUEL1860187018801890
TonCoal$6.40$9.25$6.45$7.84
CordWood, hard$6.49$10.12$6.74$8.97
CordWood, pine$4.42$7.00$5.04$7.09
QUANTITYITEMAVERAGE RETAIL PRICE
DRY GOODS1860187018801890
YardShirting, 4-4 brown$0.09$0.13$0.08$0.09
YardShirting, 4-4 bleached$0.10$0.16$0.10$0.11
YardSheeting, 9-8 brown$0.10$0.14$0.09$0.11
YardSheeting, 9-8 bleached$0.13$0.19$0.12$0.14
YardCotton flannel$0.15$0.27$0.15$0.16
YardTicking$0.17$0.24$0.18$0.17
YardPrints$0.11$0.11$0.08$0.08
YardSatinet$0.56$0.59$0.54$0.54
PairBoots, men’s heavy$2.75$3.94$3.24$3.19
 

A. Roy

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
Many years ago (1967) I bought 5 Civil War Indian Head Pennies dated 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865 and mounted them in a small glass covered frame. I put the small collection of coins in a storage box and forgot about them for the next 50 years.

Nice collection! I'm envious: I have a bunch of Indian-head pennies, but nothing from the Civil War years.

Roy B.
 

Kirk Womack

Private
Joined
Jun 29, 2019
Location
Brookville, Indiana
Many years ago (1967) I bought 5 Civil War Indian Head Pennies dated 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865 and mounted them in a small glass covered frame. I put the small collection of coins in a storage box and forgot about them for the next 50 years. Finding them again recently, it got me to thinking... what was the value of a copper penny during the war? Could a Civil War soldier or civilian actually buy anything with a penny? Were Indian Head pennies in wide circulation during the war?

I am thinking about selling or trading the collection for some other ACW item (I've got enough bullets). The 1864 and 1865 pennies are in "Fair" condition, the other three are in slightly better "Good" condition. All dates clearly visible. Anyone interested in a trade?

View attachment 335945

View attachment 335946
Just out of curiosity, what would you trade for?
 

Mike Serpa

Major
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
2019 Red Book values in Good condition. Fair condition, which is a lower grade than Good, is not listed.

1861 $10
1862 $25
1863 $10
1864 $10
1865 $20
 

Mike Serpa

Major
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
The last large cent minted had a diameter of 27.5 mm. The Flying Eagle cent (1856-1858) and the Indian Head cent (1859-1909) are 19mm in diameter. I imagine it would have been easier to cut out the head of Liberty on the large cent.
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
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