Kevin Leab's Blog

07 Mar 2021

Flying Eagle Cents 101

| Kevin Leab

When we think of the Flying Eagle Cents we think its only a two year series....not counting the proof 1856 coin. We are all familiar with the 1857 and the 1858 Large Letters and Small Letter varieties.... But wait....there is so much more to these small but exciting coins!! The 1856 Flying Eagle was meant to be a pattern coin for the series and only 2,000 of these coins were minted. Designed by James B. Longacre and meant to take the place of the Large Cent...there were actually 2 different One Cent coins in circulation in 1857, the Large Cent and the 1857 Flying Eagle Cent. Anyway, 1857 was the first year of production for circulating Flying Eagle Cents....of which 17,450,000 coins were minted that year. But there are two varieties of these....One of which may or may not be known by you if you're not familiar or have studied the series. In the beginning of 1857 some dies from 1856 were used to strike the obverse, resulting in the variety 1857 reverse of 1856. "The "0" of the word "Of" was thinner than the new 1857 design". (I have included images) ...and the serifs on the "E" in "States" and the "F" in "Of" are larger so much as they almost touch the line above.You may be more familiar with the 1858 8/7 variety... Besides the Large and Small letter variety, this is the only other variety listed in the "Red Book". To the top right of the 8 in the date there is a faint but visible "7" Some of us may need a loupe to see this. BUT another indicator of this variety is the broken wing tip between "OF" and "AMERICA". The tip of the wing may be slightly attached or completely separated from the rest of the wing. This is more obvious and can be easily detected with the naked eye. This variety is not easily found. Another variety is the 1858 "High Leaves" and "Low Leaves" coins....All of the coins minted in 1857 were of the "High Leaf" variety. Some of the reverse dies used in 1857 were used in 1858 also, creating two different reverse varieties in 1858 (see attached photo). From the wreath there are two leaves that stick up near the "C" and the "T" in the word "CENT". In the "High Leaf" variety these leaves almost touch the "C" and the "T". In the "Low Leaf" variety it doesn't come close. There is also a "Type 3" of this variety that is the "open" "E" where the serifs are much smaller. There are many different varieties in the Flying Eagle series if you want to get more advanced into collecting these beautiful coins...there are many die clash varieties, too many to mention here. Also, according to Snows attribution guide there are 41 circulation strike varieties for 1857 and 1858 which are mostly double dies and repunched dates. If you want to dive into this collection and attempt to get them all then all I can do is wish you luck. It will definitely be a lifelong journey...Thanks for readingKevin Leab

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