Is Dot on 1875 Cent Reverse the Secret Mark?

The raised dot on the
Reverse of the suspect coin
This 1875 Indian Head Cent may hold the key to solving a mystery dating to the year the coin was struck.

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.

  • ScrimCollector


    I checked my 1875 one cent. Worn, but no dot.



  • faradofay

    I have a 1900 Indian head with a dot under the last 0 in the date. It looks like someone used a tiny punch on the die.H ard to see without magnification.

  • Brian Lawrence

    I recently acquired a complete Indian collection in uncirculated and proof condition. The 1875 is definitely is a dot reverse. Mine looks just like the picture in the 2010 Red Book. Any idea of its worth in say MS 65 red?

  • Dhiz

    – Brian
    The 2010 red book does not have a diferent price for the dots.. however, in MS63, a normal 1875 is worth $260. So, I Would guesstimate the price to be anywhere from $300-$600.

  • Richard

    Historically interesting, but I doubt if it will ever be worth much more except to very specialized collectors. It’s not as though it’s an overdate or something obvious like a missing Buffalo leg (after all, it took decades to find). Also, if that dot is raised it will wear fast, and there might not be many left except in the high grades, such as Brian’s lucky example. So the total population could be pretty small. Still, it would be nice to have one.

  • I own the discovery coin.

  • I’ll have to ask Ernie “Indian cent” Tabbler about it. The guy (literally) wrote the book on Indian head cents.

  • i checked mine and YES! I HAVE THE SECRET DOT!

    woohoo! i’m rich!

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