Side View Flying Eagle IHP

What is a Fatty Indian Head Penny?

It’s rude to call anyone a fatty, unless you are talking about the fatty Indian Head Penny (IHP).

The fatty Indian Head Penny refers to pennies minted from 1854-1864 when the pennies had a bigger diameter and were thicker. The 1856-1858 Flying Eagle Cents are also “Fatty” pennies.

  • Fatty Cent Weight: ~4.67 grams
  • Regular Cent Weight: ~3.11 grams

I don’t own a fatty Indian Head Penny, but I do have an 1857 Flying Eagle Cent we can use for comparison.

Flying Eagle and IHP obverse
Left: 1857 “Fatty” Flying Eagle Cent, Right: 1888 Indian Head Penny.

From above it is hard to see a difference between the size two coins. The 1857 Flying Eagle Cent has the same diameter as the 1888 Indian Head Penny.

When we look from the side, however, we can really see where “fatty” cents got their name:

Fatty Flying Eagle Cent vs Indian Head Penny

The Fatty Flying Eagle Cent is about 75% thicker than the regular cent. If these coins were being renamed today we would call fatty cents “chonky cents” instead.

Here is the reverse of these two coins:

Flying Eagle IHP Reverse Indian Head Penny
Flying Eagle Cent Reverse vs Indian Head Penny Reverse

Share any comments or questions in the comments below!

Wooden Penny Close Up Woodgrain

What is a Wooden Penny?

A wooden penny sounds like a coin that George Washington would have used to buy ice cream. (George Washington died in 1799, almost 100 years before the first US wooden penny would have been made.)

A wooden penny can be found in circulation, you have probably held hundreds or thousands of wooden pennies in your lifetime; without even knowing it!

Unlike what the name suggests, a wooden penny contains no wood.

So… What is a Wooden Penny?

A wooden penny, also known as a wood grain penny, is a copper penny with an improper blend of metals.

My 1982 Large Date Wood Penny.

The term is used to describe a striped toning that sometimes appears on copper pennies. The toning appears after many years, and will only show up on pennies where the zinc and copper did not blend properly during production.

When wood pennies were produced, the improperly mixed copper and zinc was rolled into a thin sheet. This rolling caused the zinc to stretch across what would be the surface of the coin.

Since copper tones faster than zinc, the zinc appears darker on the coin, creating the striations that resemble wood grain.

Since it takes weeks to decades for a coin to begin toning. The mint had no way of knowing the coins would develop the wood pattern when they were sent out into circulation.

Are Wooden Pennies Valuable?

Unfortunately, no, these pennies do not command a premium. In fact none of the major coin graders have a classification for wooden pennies.

This could change if demand increases for these pennies. I think the toning makes these coins even more attractive, so I save many wooden pennies I find.

My 1980D Wood Penny

You may be able to find a buyer online who is willing to pay slightly more for a wood grain penny that has a good “eye-appeal”, but it is very subjective.

Are Wooden Pennies Error Coins?

Yes, technically wooden pennies are error coins since the design and composition differs from the ideal look of the coin, and it happened during production.

Here is a quote from PCGS:

“An error is a mistake stemming from the method of manufacturing and can be insignificant or massive… These mistakes can be anything from an inconsistent mixture of the metal that the coin is made from, to planchet-production issues, to striking, and even thereafter.”

According to PCGS

Therefore, yes! A wooden penny is considered an error coin, even though PCGS does not officially grade them as such.

Unfortunately, not all errors are valuable even when they are not graded, as is the case with the wood grain penny.

Does the Wood grain Pattern Only Happen With Pennies?

Not at all! Any coin made with a mix of copper and zinc could have this error. But it must be composed of a blend of zinc and copper, not just copper coated.

You can find the wood grain pattern on: Lincoln cents, Indian Head Pennies, Two Cent Pieces, and Flying Eagle Cents.

Remember how I said George Washington would have been dead before the US penny could have been minted? That is because the Two Cent Piece, minted from 1864-1873, was the first US coin to be minted using copper and zinc. (This mixture was called French bronze at the time.)

Although the oldest possible example for a US coin with a wooden pattern would be from 1864, there have been foreign coins exhibiting the wood grain toning.

Bronze Rot on Ancient Coin

What To Do If A Coin Has Bronze Disease?

Bronze disease, also known as copper rot, is not a disease, but a chemical reaction forming on the surface of a coin. It is common on ancient coins, but can also appear on modern coins.

When chloride comes into contact with copper or bronze it can begin a chemical reaction that damages the copper by turning it into green cupric chloride.

How to identify bronze disease?

Bronze disease creates fuzzy green or white colors on the surface of the coin. The green coloration can range from a neon green to a dark forest green.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Bronze disease should come off when scratched with a toothpick or fingernail.

Bronze disease will also likely only appear on a couple places on the coin. If the green does not appear in patches, but all around the coin you may have verdigris.

What is verdigris?

Verdigris looks very similar to bronze disease, however, verdigris is non-damaging and sometimes considered desirable for coins.

The Statue of Liberty’s coloring comes from Verdigris!

To tell if you have verdigris or bronze disease you will check three things:

1.) Does the green coloring come off when scratched?
2.) Is the green color patchy instead of evenly covering the coin?
3.) Are there white spots on the coin as well?

If you answered yes to two or more, then you more likely have bronze disease not verdigris.

What to do if a coin has bronze disease?

First, move your infected copper coin away from your other coins. Bronze disease can be transferred if the coins come in contact with each other.

Unfortunately, there are no easy cures for bronze disease and no way to reverse the damage done. You can help slow the spread by keeping the coin as dry as possible. Try keeping the coin preserved near silica gel or rice to absorb moisture in the air.

This website on ancient coins offers several remedies to slow the spread of bronze disease. You can click here to be redirected.

How to prevent bronze disease on your coins?

The best way to prevent bronze disease it to keep your coins dry. Don’t keep your coins in the bathroom or attic where they may be exposed to high humidity.

If you live in an area with high, year-round humidity, buy some packets of silica gel to keep with your coins. For a quick fix, you could fill teabags with rice to help absorb moisture.

For helpful tips on coin storage and handling, as well as recommended product links check out this article on proper coin storage and handling.

Share any questions or comments below!