From the NGC Archives: 1858 Copper Nickel Pattern Cent J-208, P-259

Sculpted to replace small cent copper and nickel pieces that did not strike up well, this month’s feature is a collectors’ favorite.

When Congress approved a small cent of copper and nickel in 1857 to replace the cumbersome large cents used previously, the new coins proved to be an immediate success. On the downside, however, they did not strike up well, and a replacement design was sought.

The Indian Head of Liberty sculpted by James B. Longacre fit the bill, and it remains a favorite with collectors to the present day. First used in 1858 on patterns such as this one, it became the regular type the following year. This variety features clusters of five leaves each in the wreath, while its bust is of the rounded type not adopted for circulating coins until 1860. Nearly a gem specimen, this charming pattern cent is well, though not quite fully, struck. Light toning shields its underlying bright surfaces, with the reverse being especially appealing.

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