Bob S. writes: I have a marble carved bust of a likeness extremely similar to the Indian head penny. On the back of a frame is the the note: “This is the original marble design for the Indian Head Copper Pennies – It was changed somewhat in the final design. Helen F Crossman”.
It is about 1 inch thick at the most and is 9 inches tall by 6 inches wide. It’s signed in pencil on the underside of the neck by “C. N. Pike – 1859”. I’ve done a bunch of reading on the Indian head cent and find a lot of references to Longacre and the transition from the Flying Eagle to the Indian cent… but no mentions of how the coin was designed. Bottom line, could this be authentic or just a nice wallhanger? Thanks a lot. Bob S.
Chief Engraver James B. Longacre was the originator of the Indian cent design. Note that there are no patterns that exist that show “AMERICA” as the country name. It is always “United States of America”. There is a good description of the origins of the Indian cent on the CoinSite. See 1859-1864 Indian Head Cent.
From the section about Longacre:
“An oft-repeated story has it that Longacre modeled the “Indian” after his young daughter, Sarah. Evidence suggests that this is pure fantasy: Researchers have found drawings of virtually the same female head in Longacre sketchbooks from 10 years earlier, always with the same adult proportions and the same long “Greek” nose. And the artist himself referred to this profile in letters and official memoranda as being that of the Venus Accroupie, or “Crouching Venus” a Greco-Roman statue displayed at that time in a Philadelphia museum.”
I think that Venus Accroupie might now be located at the National Museum in Washington.