1908-S 1C MS66RD. This is an outstanding, intensely bright example of the first minor (copper) coinage issue struck at a branch mint in the United States. Judging from the population data, the 1908-S and 1909-S Indian cents are about equal in rarity in high grades with full red color, and both are much, much rarer than the 1909-S VDB cent in such condition. Although the 1908-S was probably saved to some degree as the first mintmarked cent, the 1909-S Indian was saved as the last of the series (and the general collecting public saved many more 'SVDBs as a novel new design). The San Francisco cents of 1908 and 1909 were struck on lighter-colored planchets than earlier cent issues. The '08-S is a scarce (1.1 million pieces produced), semi-key issue in the Indian Head cent series at all levels of preservation. Obviously set aside shortly after delivery, this fully Red, carbon-free example of this introductory, branch-mint Indian cent displays unbelievable flash. The coin possesses full mint luster and even, orange-red coloration. Copper-gold luster adorns both sides, and the well-executed, virtually full strike is exacting throughout, resulting in crisp definition of the design features, including sharpness on the bowknot, all four diamonds, and on the tips of the feathers at the top of the Indian's headdress. Both sides are exceptionally smooth with a shimmering satin texture. Close examination reveals remarkably clean surfaces and no spots worthy of note; There are only a couple of slight, relatively unobtrusive contact marks on the cheek and neck to justify this grade, as opposed to a higher one. A magnificent example of this scarce, late-date Indian cent, this piece shows even, bright mint red color, unlike the streaky coins often seen on 1908 and especially 1909 cents. Rick Snow states "Full feathers are extremely rare" [on an '08-S] but if the strike atop the headdress feathers of this coin is not fully razor-sharp, in light of the issue's striking weakness being ever-present, this is forgivable. The Eliasberg catalog notes that 1908-S cents were struck on silver presses. The hardness of bronze compared to silver might help explain why this issue is usually found softly struck. That being said, Mr. Eliasberg held out for a sharp one, and I've been fortunate, too. The srike on this piece is exemplary. It would be difficult to imagine a more attractive example.
Jaime Hernandez: The 1908-S Indian cent is the third lowest mintage circulation strike coin in the Indian cent series. The only two other lower mintage circulation strike coins in the series are the 1877 and the 1909-S, with the latter being the lowest mintage in the entire series.
In circulated grades, most 1908-S Indian cents survive in Fine to XF grades. Because of its low mintage and it being the first San Francisco Mint struck cent, it has always been a very popular coin.
The majority of uncirculated 1908-S Indian cents exist in MS64 grades. In uncirculated grades, there are more coins in existence containing Red Brown surfaces than there are with Brown or Red surfaces. There are more uncirculated coins displaying complete Red surfaces than there are in Brown.
Regardless of surface color, in MS65 grade, the 1908-S Indian cents are considered somewhat scarce with approximately 350 total examples in existence in this grade. In MS66 grade, they are considered very scarce, as this is also the highest grade available for this coin. There are possibly about 40 to 50 total examples in MS66 grade, with none being higher.