Vintage Indian Maiden Penny Ring

$ 69.00

I love history and am always trying to incorporate antique objects into my jewelry. When I found five Indian Head Penny's while antiquing, I fell in love with the mysterious face of the Indian Maiden. I needed to showcase these little bits American history and tell their story.

The Indian Head penny was designed by artist James Longacre and they were minted from 1859 through 1909. It has been said that the Indian Maiden is his personification of Liberty. It's rumored that Longacre came up with the idea when his daughter came to the mint and put on a headdress. Although he often sketched his daughter, he swears that the woman's face was based off a statue of Venus rather than his child. The Mint Director, James Ross Snowden, suggested the head of Columbus as a design, but Longacre felt that a historic figure would not be approved by the public on an American coin. Ironically, his Indian Head penny was replaced with the Lincoln Penny in 1909.

Longacre wrote a letter to Snowden, who was skeptical at first about the design. He wrote, "From the copper shores of Lake Superior, to the silver mountains of Potosi from the Ojibwa to the Aramanian, the feathered tiara is as characteristic of the primitive races of our hemisphere, as the turban is of the Asiatic. Nor is there anything in its decorative character, repulsive to the association of Liberty … It is more appropriate than the Phrygian cap, the emblem rather of the emancipated slave, than of the independent freeman, of those who are able to say "we were never in bondage to any man". I regard then this emblem of America as a proper and well defined portion of our national inheritance; and having now the opportunity of consecrating it as a memorial of Liberty, 'our Liberty', American Liberty; why not use it? One more graceful can scarcely be devised. We have only to determine that it shall be appropriate, and all the world outside of us cannot wrest it from us." Snowden approved of the coin, although its juxtaposition of a Caucasian woman wearing a Native American male warrior headdress seemed a bit provocative. I find the design to be quite appropriate as it represents the melting pot that is America. Today, the Indian Head penny is widely collected.

The coin is 20 mm in diameter and is set in sterling silver bezel with a copper backing. The band is sterling silver and has an intricate decorative flower motif. The ring pictured is size 7.5 and the coin is from 1904. I have four more coins and I can custom make them in any size. When ordering, please specify if you want the ring in the picture or which size you prefer.

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