The hunt to identify a “secret mark” on the reverse of an 1875 Indian Head cent which has persisted for some thirty-six years may have finally been successful. This year a coin appraiser, assessing coins for an auction had his attention drawn to a particular 1875 Indian cent. The coin had a tiny raised dot on one of the letters in the denomination.
Could the dot be the “secret mark” placed on the reverse die of the 1875 Indian Head Cent to catch an employee of the Philadelphia Mint suspected of pilfering coins from the press he was operating?
A numismatic archivist had written an article in 1972 in “Numismatic Scrapbook” magazine alerting the world to the fact that such cents with a “secret mark” had been produced in 1875. This was authenticated by correspondence found in the National Archives. At this time it was noted that no such coins had ever been found, and he challenged, “Where are they?” Then this cent was uncovered this year.
It could be that the die was removed from the Philadelphia Mint press after the employee had been caught, then kept as evidence. About 30,000 were coined from this die. Such a coin may be found today at the ratio of 1 to every 450 cents.
Now that the collector knows what to look for, we may quickly learn how many survived.
Resource: “Coin World, August 4, 2008.