VarietyPlus » Flying Eagle Cents (1856-1858)

Flying Eagle Cents (1856-1858)

The need to reduce both the size and intrinsic value of the cent was apparent from about 1850 onward. After several years of experimentation, small cents of a copper-nickel alloy were introduced in 1856. These bore the Flying Eagle from Christian Gobrecht’s silver dollars of 1836-39 paired with a simple wreath of a type used repeatedly by James B. Longacre for several denominations.

The 1856-dated cents are considered patterns, though ones that were extensively restruck over the next several years. The 1857-58 cents were issued in huge numbers for general circulation before this type was all too quickly retired. All three dates are quite popular with numismatists, and this brief series traditionally has been collected as a prefix to the Indian Head Cents that followed.

Numerous interesting varieties are known for the Eagle Cent. These include the very obvious Large Letters versus Small Letters varieties of 1858, two overdates and even a few die-clash mules. The most desirable of these are included in NGC's VarietyPlus attribution program.

NGC will attribute the Eagle Cent varieties listed below. Those included within The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties are labeled with Fivaz/Stanton (FS) numbers, while additional varieties employ NGC’s VarietyPlus (VP) numbers. A further selection of varieties may be found within the books listed under References and will be of interest to the specialist.

Denom.MS/PFDateFee*NGC LabelVarietyPlusFivaz-Stanton (NEW)Fivaz-Stanton (OLD)Snow
1CMS1857 EAGLE-     
1CMS1857 DDO EAGLE$15FS-101VP-001 FS-002S-4
1CMS1857 DDO EAGLE$15FS-102VP-003 FS-002.3S-15
1CMS1857/57 DDO EAGLE$15FS-103VP-002 FS-002.7S-10
1CMS1857 DDO EAGLE$15FS-104VP-004 FS-002.8S-5
1CMS1857 DDO EAGLE$15FS-105VP-006 FS-002S-3
1CMS1857/1857 EAGLE$15FS-301VP-005 FS-001.5S-11
1CMS1857/857 EAGLE$15TYPE OF 1856 FS-401a  FS-001S-1
1CMS1857 EAGLE$15TYPE OF 1856 FS-401b  FS-001S-2
1CMS1858 DDO LG LETTERS$15FS-101VP-003 FS-005.5S-2
1CMS1858 DDO LG LETTERS$15VP-004   S-13
1CMS1858 DDO LG LETTERS$15VP-005   S-6
1CMS1858/7 $15FS-301V0-001 FS-006S-1
1CMS1858/7 $15FS-301 LDS  FS-006 
1CMS1858/1--7 DDO LG LET$15FS-302VP-002 FS-006.1S-7
1CPF1856 EAGLE-     

* In order to have the above varieties requiring the $15 fee designated by NGC, VarietyPlus service must be requested at time of grading. VarietyPlus service is also available for coins already encapsulated by NGC. For coins where the fee column is blank, no VarietyPlus charge is required to have your coin designated during grading. For coins marked $15, a $15 surcharge applies to the tier fee during grading, or a $15 fee applies to have the VarietyPlus designation added to any coin already graded and encapsulated by NGC.
Bowers, Q. David. A Buyer’s and Enthusiast’s Guide to Flying Eagle and Indian Cents. Bowers & Merena Galleries, Wolfeboro, NH, 1996
Breen, Walter. Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins. Doubleday/FCI Press, New York, 1988
Fivaz, Bill and J.T. Stanton. The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties, 5th Edition, Volume 1. Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2009
Lange, David W. History of the United States Mint & Its Coinage. Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2005
Snow, Richard. The Flying Eagle & Indian Cent Attribution Guide 1856-1858. Eagle Eye Rare Coins. M & G Publications, Tuscon, AZ, undated
Snow, Richard. Flying Eagle & Indian Cents. Eagle Eye Press, 1992
Snow, Richard. A Guide Book of Flying Eagle & Indian Head Cents. Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2006
Taxay, Don. The U.S. Mint and Coinage. Arco Publishing, New York, 1966
Yeoman, R.S., Kenneth Bressett (editor). A Guide Book of United States Coins, 62nd Edition. Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2008