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Flying Eagle Cents (First Small Penny)

Updated on October 23, 2014

Flying Eagle and Indian Head Cents Book

Learn about these wonderful collectible coins.
Learn about these wonderful collectible coins. | Source

The Flying Eagle Cents

The Flying Eagle Cent coin was not intended to be circulated. It was, according to "A Guide Book of United States Coins" the popular "RED BOOK" by R. S. Yeoman, made as a pattern to show Congress the design of the intended nickel cent coin that was authorized by the act of February 21, 1857. Apparently, the mint had some prior belief that the act would pass, since the initial striking was dated 1856, prior to the actual act. This makes sense that Congress would like to see the coin before authorizing it for general production.

The coin was also produced, according to Yeoman, the composition is eighty-eight percent copper and twelve percent nickel. Some 1856 pieces were struck for the prototype, while others were struck in proof for collectors, states the Red Book.

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A Highly Collectible Coin

Coin collectors like to collect entire series. This is a short series, running from 1856 through 1858. Even allowing for the two varieties of the 1858 coin, the large lettering and the small lettering, and the date error 8 over 7 coins, there are only five coins listed. The only one not intended for circulation was the 1856 coin, but apparently some did get out. The 1856 is the rarest, and is likely out of reach of most collectors, but the other varieties are less expensive. Compare the cost of acquiring a decent grade Flying Eagle Cent with the cost of collecting silver coins, and it looks like a bargain.

The First Samll Cent

While the idea of a nickel one cent piece did not catch on, the size of the coin is considerably smaller than the large cent coins that were issued into 1857. Having two size coins was inconvenient. People wanted the metal content to reflect the value, and the large cent pieces obviously had motre metal. So, the only way to force the issue was to stop production of large cent coins.

The Flying Eagle Cent gave way to the Indian Head Penny in 1859.

Flying Eagle and Indian Cents Book

Flying Eagle and Indian Head Cents

The video is by PCGS, which is a respected coin grading service. The grades of the coins in the video are high, hence the high prices, but lower grades can be obtained even from less impressive sellers.

Coin Books

We recommend the Red Book, which now is also available in large print.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      These small pennies are great collection, souvenirs that will become rare someday.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 5 years ago

      Wow, never heard of these before and amazing detail on them . . considering the era.