CoinHunter's Blog

18 Dec 2020

Flying Eagle Cents

Coins | CoinHunter

Today I will be talking about flying eagle cents. Flying eagles were a result of the increasingly unpopular large cents in the 1840s because of the fact that they weren't legal tender (only silver and gold coins were legal tender in the United States) and because of this they were refused at most places or accepted at a huge discount which was even worse. By 1851, it was costing the Mint $1.06 to strike one dollar in 1-cent coins, they were losing money by making them! The diameter of the 1-cent coin was based off of British penny denomination (which is probably why some people still call our one-cent coins "pennies" which is technically incorrect). Because of the increasing price of minting large cents, experimental cent patterns and various proposals for different metal compositions for a Small Cent began to be explored. As blanks for large cents became not only expensive, but also almost unavailable, Mint Director James R. Snowden decided to strike a Small Cent of 88% copper and 12% nickel at a weight of 4.67 grams (Large Cents have a weight of 10.89 grams and are composed of pure copper beginning in 1795).

The flying eagle design appearing on the reverse of the Gobrecht Silver Dollars of 1837-1839 was adopted by Snowden for the new Small Cent coins obverse, while the wreath on the reverse of the new Small Cents was borrowed from the reverse design on the Gold Dollar and the $3 coin denominations designed by James B. Longacre. Snowden ordered about 1000 1856 Flying Eagle Cents to be struck without official authorization. Therefore, from a legal standpoint, all 1856 Flying Eagle Cents may be considered illegally struck and issued (as with the 1804 Silver Dollar and the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel). However, the Secret Service probably never will, but would have the legal right too seize these coins. Unlike the 1856 issue, that of 1857 is officially authorized. The 1857 Flying Eagle Cents were very popular with the public and saved in large quantities. They were so popular, the Mint set up booths in the Mint yard to sell the coins to the public. Thanks for reading my blog! I hope you learned as much as I did writing it.

Source-PCGS CoinFacts



Level 4

Wow! Thank you so much, I learned a lot!


Level 7

I enjoy the coin for it's design. Since I only have a few.I enjoy them . Thank you for an enjoyable blog!!

It's Mokie

Level 6

Still one of the best designs ever produced, they are far superior to Indian Head Cents, IMHO. I understand they did not strike well but maybe a little tweaking might have eliminated that problem.

These are beautiful coins! I have only seen two of these in person, and if I had had the money to buy them, I would have bought both. These have such a low mintage, and they are harder to find than you would think.


Level 6

Coins worth having in anyone's collection.


Level 6

Great blog on a beautiful coin! Thanks for your research!

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Outstanding article! You did an excellent job of presenting one of my most favorite coins. Thanks so much, your scholarship shows


Level 5

Well researched and written blog. Chock full of neat facts, I have always loved the design of this coin although I only have a couple of em. You guys keep this old guy mentally sharp cause I now feel compelled to further research my coins of this type. Very enjoyable blog. Later!


Level 5

Very nice information. Nice post. 1856 would be a nice coin to own. Large cents were not legal tender? I didn't know that. No wonder they were not popular ! Big and bulky and nobody really wanted to accept them? Nice blog.


Level 5

Love these coins! Fly-Ins are absolutely my favorite! Cheers, NM

walking liberty

Level 4

I love flying eagle cents! It makes me wish I had one to look at right now. Happy Holidays! WL


Level 5

Flying Eagles are one of my favorites! Thanks for the great blog, stay safe


Level 6

Nicely done blog. Thanks for the sourcing as well.

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