Flying Eagle Cent (1856 – 1858)

#1 Flying Eagle Cent Buyer Las Vegas & Henderson

History of Small Cents

As the value of the one-cent coin dropped, so did Americans’ tolerance of carrying around a bunch of heavy, large one-cent coins in their pockets and purses. As early as 1850, the Mint gave serious thought to replacing the large cents with a smaller coin and to drive out foreign coins like the Spanish Reales. Rising copper and production costs in the 19th century made large cents an impractical and costly currency. In its place, the U.S. government began minting small cents.

In 1857, Congress directed the United States Mint to produce smaller one-cent coins made of both copper and nickel. While the large old pennies had been constructed of copper alone, these new pennies were each 88% copper and 12% nickel. The Mint Act of 1857 was signed February 21, abolished the copper half cent and large cent that had been minted since 1793. This was the first use of copper-nickel by the United States. The copper-nickel made them look brighter and they began to be called “White cent” or “Nicks”.

On that day the Mint was to begin a major transformation of the coinage in daily use. The old copper cents and half cents would be exchanged for a convenient new coin made out of a new alloy never seen in our coinage previously. The new nickel cent was going to cure the ills of the currency and bring the nations coinage into the modern era, or so it was hoped. In addition to exchanging copper cents and half cents at par for the new nickels, the old foreign silver was to be withdrawn and replaced with new federal issues. Within a short period it was hoped that all foreign coins could be removed from circulation.

The series of small cents started from 1857 until 1909. Here are the different designs of small cents:

  • Flying Eagle Cent: The first Small Cent, the Flying Eagle Cent, was issued as a pattern type in very small numbers in 1856, and business strike coins began in 1857. The Flying Eagle Cent didn’t last long, though, with 1858 being its final year of issue.
  • Indian Head Cent: The so-called Indian Head Penny, which is actually a depiction of Lady Liberty wearing a feathered headdress, is a very popular type today. It replaced the Flying Eagle Cent in 1859 and was issued until 1909.
  • Lincoln Cent, Wheat Reverse: The Wheat Ears Penny, also known as a feather back or wheat back penny replaced the Indian Head pennies in 1909 and were made until 1958. Wheat pennies range from 2 cents to 20 cents in value, depending on the date.

History of Flying Eagle Small Cents

In the 1850s  the United States Mint had a problem. The large cents, which was simply a penny, was becoming too expensive to manufacture. The coin was nearly the size of a half dollar and consisted entirely of copper. They needed an alternative.

In 1851 the price of copper subsided somewhat, but by 1853 the price rose again to the point where the mint was losing money for every large cent they were producing. In the spring of 1856, the mint began experimenting with a mixture of 88% copper and 12% nickel to be used for a new one cent coin.

The United States began issuing Small Cents in 1857 for two reasons: first, the cost of making the larger size Half-Cent and Large Cent had risen to the point where making the coins cost more than they were worth. Second, Small Cents were meant to encourage citizens to move away from using Spanish and English coinage and begin using U.S. issued coinage.

On July 11, 1856, Mint Director James Ross Snowden recommended a new small cent coin to be produced. Chief Engraver James B. Longacre was instructed to start producing sample designs on pattern coins to be evaluated by the Secretary of the Treasury. The Mint Act of 1857 was signed February 21, abolished the copper half cent and large cent that had been minted since 1793. This was the first use of copper-nickel by the United States. The copper-nickel made them look brighter and they began to be called “White cent” or “Nicks”. Longacre designed the first small cent and it is the Flying Eagle Small Cent. It was issued for public use in 1857.

The Flying Eagle small cent’s obverse and reverse layouts were adapted from previously used motifs. It features a left-facing, flying eagle on the obverse. The word UNITED STATES OF AMERICA encircles the bust and is located near the dentilled rim of the coin. The date is centered at the bottom of the bust.

The reverse features a plant wreath consisting of various leaves and seed heads of corn, wheat, cotton, and tobacco, bound at the bottom with a ribbon.  It is placed inside a dentilled rim on the reverse. Inside of the wreath is the word ONE CENT inscribed, which is the denomination or coin value. All coins were minted at Philadelphia, and no mintmarks are displayed on the coins.

Flying Eagle cents were produced only for three years but the first year 1856 coins, considered patterns, were not distributed for public use but instead to Treasury officials. The series of the design lasted until 1859.

What is a Flying Eagle Small Cent

The Flying Eagle small cent was designed by Chief Engraver James B. Longacre in 1856. The obverse design was adapted from Christian Gobrecht’s 1836 Liberty Seated. It’s originally been drawn by Titian Peale and sculpted by Christian Gobrecht. It features a flying eagle that is facing left. The word UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is struck around the bust and is minted near the dentilled rim. The date it was minted is struck below the bust.

The wreath design was previously used by Longacre on the 1854 gold one dollar and gold three dollar coins. The reverse features a plant wreath that is consists of various leaves and seed heads of corn, wheat, cotton, and tobacco, bound at the bottom with a ribbon, is placed inside a dentilled rim on the reverse. In the center is the two-line ONE CENT text. All coins were minted at Philadelphia, and no mintmarks are displayed on the coins.

Small cents replaced the large cents, and the first design issued under this coinage is the Flying Eagle small cent. Flying Eagle cents were produced only for three years, from 1856 to 1858 because broken dies and other manufacturing problems plagued Flying Eagle cent production. The primary issue was that the hard copper-nickel alloy put excessive strain on the equipment. Officials made some modest changes to the height of the relief of the images in an attempt to solve the problem. However, difficulties persisted and in 1859 the Mint was ready to replace the design. As a result, the earliest 1856 Flying Eagle cents specimens are rare.

Composition and Specifications of Flying Eagle Small Cents

The Flying Eagle small cent was the first small sized one cent coin issued by the United States Mint. Previously, the large cent had been issued which proved to be bulky in commerce and expensive to make. The design was used for only two years before being replaced by the Indian Head Cent. The composition of the coins was 88% copper and 12% nickel with a weight of 4.67 grams.

Designer: James B. Longacre
Circulation Mintage: high 24,600,000 (1858), low 750 (1856, estimated)
Proof Mintage: high 1,500 (1856, estimated), low 160-200 (1858, estimated)
Denomintion: $0.01 One cents (01/100)
Diameter: ±19 mm, plain edge
Metal content: 88% copper, 12% nickel
Weight: ±4.67 grams
Varieties: The three best-known varieties are the 1858/7 overdate and large letter 1858 and the small letter 1858 versions. Several additional varieties are also known in this popular and extensively studied series, and include die doubling, clashing, and other minor die variations.

How We Grade Flying Eagle Small Cents

These are the different grades of Flying Eagle Small Cent:

  • Uncirculated: These are the coins that never made it out onto the open market. They normally have a brand new look or same as how it looked like when it was first minted way back in 1856 to 1858.
  • Extremely Fine: These coins look the same as uncirculated but it has few minor scratches and chips. These imperfections are noticeable but nothing so large that it will detract from the appearance of the coin.
  • Fine: These coins were likely been circulated for over a long period of time. They have scratches and chips but the letters and numbers on the surface image can still be seen by the naked eye.
  • Good: These are the coins that have been heavily circulated and damaged. The letters and numbers worn away due to deep scratching and smoothing. Most good graded coins are in the worst condition.

We prefer coins that have been graded and certified as authentic by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), though we will still give a fair deal for these coins.

Price Quote for Flying Eagle Small Cents

We have different estimated prices for each year of production of Flying Eagle small cents. Prices varies from 1856 to 1858.

For the 1856 Flying Eagle small cents, the price for Good graded coins reach up to $6,500; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $9,000; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reach up to $12,500; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $14,500.

The 1857 Flying Eagle small cents price for Good graded coins reaches up to $30; for the Fine graded coins, the prices can reach up to $50; while the price for Extremely Fine graded coins can range up to $150; and the Uncirculated graded coins reaches up to $220.

And the 1858 Flying Eagle small cents, large letters, the price for Good graded coins can reach up to $30; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $50; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reaches up to $150; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $220.

And the 1858 Flying Eagle small cents, small letters, the price for Good graded coins can reach up to $30; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $50; while the Extremely Fine graded coins reaches up to $150; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $220.

Uncirculated coins price higher than the other grades because it has never been used or circulated in the open market, and it looks brand new with no imperfections or scratches.

All 1856-dated coins are more expensive than coins dated 1857 and 1858 for both business strikes and proofs. Business strike coins for the last two years are generally affordable, with prices jumping at Gem and above, but proofs are expensive at all grades. Prooflike business strikes have been certified, as have cameo and deep cameo proofs. Keys coins for the series are the 1856 dates and an 1858/7 overdate; all proofs are scarce to rare.

As you can see, we buy Flying Eagle small cents of 1856 to 1858. We will buy your coins no matter the grade and the condition. So, if you have Flying Eagle small cent coins, sell it to us and we will give you a good deal for your coins. Contact us now!

 

 

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