The Flying Eagle Penny: The First Small Cent Issued By The US Mint!

The Flying Eagle Penny is one of the more popular coins for US collectors.

The 1856 Flying Eagle Penny is one of the rarest and most expensive of all key date US coins, with only an estimated 800 or so circulation strikes and 1500 proof strikes.


The Flying Eagle Penny was brought into production because around the time of its release the cost of copper was causing the Mint to lose money in producing the classic Large Cent design. Prices of copper at that time were  around 42 cents a pound and the Mint had calculated that when the cost of copper was at or above this level, it would incur a loss on these coins when manufacturing costs were factored in.

This was troubling for the Mint because producing Large Cents had long been a profit center due to the fact that they had cost much less than a cent to produce and the difference, or "seignorage" went directly to the Mint's bottom line.

1 Random 1857 1858 Flying Eagle Penny Low Grade 1 Coin
1 Random 1857 1858 Flying Eagle Penny Low Grade 1 Coin
$3.78
Time Remaining: 20d 14h 47m
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1858 Flying Eagle Cent 1c Small Letters MS66 PCGS
1858 Flying Eagle Cent 1c Small Letters MS66 PCGS
$17,500.00
Time Remaining: 26d 9h 24m
Buy It Now for only: $17,500.00
1857 1858 FLYING EAGLE 1859 18621863 INDIAN CENT 5 COINS
1857 1858 FLYING EAGLE 1859 18621863 INDIAN CENT 5 COINS
$34.00 (18 Bids)
Time Remaining: 7h 56m
1857 Flying Eagle Cent 1c MS66 PCGS
1857 Flying Eagle Cent 1c MS66 PCGS
$18,500.00
Time Remaining: 26d 9h 24m
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1857 Flying Eagle Cent 2
1857 Flying Eagle Cent 2
$17.00
Time Remaining: 1d 17h 42m
Buy It Now for only: $17.00
1857 1909 Indian Head Flying Eagle Cent Album 35 1c Coins 1858 1861 1866 1876
1857 1909 Indian Head Flying Eagle Cent Album 35 1c Coins 1858 1861 1866 1876
$50.00 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 12h 58m
1856 Flying Eagle Cent PCGS PR 63
1856 Flying Eagle Cent PCGS PR 63
$18,245.00
Time Remaining: 24d 1h 4m
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1858 Flying Eagle Cent Very Fine VF
1858 Flying Eagle Cent Very Fine VF
$42.00
Time Remaining: 28d 8h 58m
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1856 1C Flying Eagle Cent NGC PR 64 Proof Exceptional Key Date Coin Proof
1856 1C Flying Eagle Cent NGC PR 64 Proof Exceptional Key Date Coin Proof
$19,975.00
Time Remaining: 13d 6h 57m
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1858 Flying Eagle Cent EXTRA FINE+ LARGE LETTER BEAUTY RAW G830
1858 Flying Eagle Cent EXTRA FINE+ LARGE LETTER BEAUTY RAW G830
$96.00
Time Remaining: 25d 8h 24m
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The lineage of the Flying Eagle Penny can be traced back to the Feuchtwanger's Tokens proposed by Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger in the late 1830's.

Feuchtwanger had spent a lot of time trying to convince Congress to use his Feuchtwanger's composition, a silvery alloy of nickel copper and zinc, in US coinage. This "German Silver" had a light colored composition similar to the copper nickel all0y that would be used in the Flying Eagle Penny.  These also had an eagle motif with a feather design similar to that of the Flying Eagle Penny. Although his pattern was never adopted, Feuchtwanger's Tokens would later circulate as money as a result of the coin shortages of the early 1940's.

The design of the Flying Eagle Penny was based on the Flying Eagle design that Christian Gobrecht had  designed in 1838  for use in US half dollars.

The reverse featured a wreath designed by James Longacre for use on $1 and $3 US gold coins. Longacre engraved the dies designed for the minting of the Flying Eagle Penny and later achieved fame as the designer of the classic Indian Head penny. The composition of the Flying Eagle Penny was set at 88% copper and 12% nickel.

The 1856 Flying Eagle Penny was minted in low quantities to "educate" the public about this new size cent. Large Cents had been in circulation since the Mint's founding, and people were more vocal about changes in the country's money in the 1850's than they are now. Coins of this time were designed to guarantee a fixed amount of a metal's intrinsic value in each coin, and the reduction of size in the cent could have been viewed as the government trying to "cheat" the possessor of the smaller coin out of a specific amount of intrinsic value. These coins were minted for distribution to newspaper editors, congressmen, & other "influential"  individuals who could get the word out and create a favorable view of the coins. Word got out about the new coins and soon the 1856 Flying Eagle Penny was being traded at a premium of 50 cents to a dollar a coin. This was at a time when $2 was more than a day's pay for many people, which is quite remarkable.

The Mint struck 17,450,000 examples of the 1857 Flying Eagle Penny and 24,600,00 examples of the 1858 Flying Eagle Penny. These were soon snapped up by an eager public, who were taking advantage of a program where they could turn in their worn and damaged coppers and Spanish Reales for the Flying Eagle Penny. Supply could not keep up with demand and the lucky folks who got a hold of the Flying Eagle Penny often sold them at a premium to those less lucky. But the Mint was not as happy with the Flying Eagle Penny. Mint director James Snowden decided that the design of the coin caused it to strike poorly and after a run of only three years, the Flying Eagle Penny was replaced by the Indian Head penny.

The Flying Eagle penny is easy to find on eBay!

1 Random 1857 1858 Flying Eagle Penny Low Grade 1 Coin
1 Random 1857 1858 Flying Eagle Penny Low Grade 1 Coin
$3.78
Time Remaining: 20d 14h 47m
Buy It Now for only: $3.78
1858 Flying Eagle Cent 1c Small Letters MS66 PCGS
1858 Flying Eagle Cent 1c Small Letters MS66 PCGS
$17,500.00
Time Remaining: 26d 9h 24m
Buy It Now for only: $17,500.00
1857 1858 FLYING EAGLE 1859 18621863 INDIAN CENT 5 COINS
1857 1858 FLYING EAGLE 1859 18621863 INDIAN CENT 5 COINS
$34.00 (18 Bids)
Time Remaining: 7h 56m
1857 Flying Eagle Cent 1c MS66 PCGS
1857 Flying Eagle Cent 1c MS66 PCGS
$18,500.00
Time Remaining: 26d 9h 24m
Buy It Now for only: $18,500.00
1857 Flying Eagle Cent 2
1857 Flying Eagle Cent 2
$17.00
Time Remaining: 1d 17h 42m
Buy It Now for only: $17.00
1857 1909 Indian Head Flying Eagle Cent Album 35 1c Coins 1858 1861 1866 1876
1857 1909 Indian Head Flying Eagle Cent Album 35 1c Coins 1858 1861 1866 1876
$50.00 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 12h 58m
1856 Flying Eagle Cent PCGS PR 63
1856 Flying Eagle Cent PCGS PR 63
$18,245.00
Time Remaining: 24d 1h 4m
Buy It Now for only: $18,245.00
1858 Flying Eagle Cent Very Fine VF
1858 Flying Eagle Cent Very Fine VF
$42.00
Time Remaining: 28d 8h 58m
Buy It Now for only: $42.00
1856 1C Flying Eagle Cent NGC PR 64 Proof Exceptional Key Date Coin Proof
1856 1C Flying Eagle Cent NGC PR 64 Proof Exceptional Key Date Coin Proof
$19,975.00
Time Remaining: 13d 6h 57m
Buy It Now for only: $19,975.00
1858 Flying Eagle Cent EXTRA FINE+ LARGE LETTER BEAUTY RAW G830
1858 Flying Eagle Cent EXTRA FINE+ LARGE LETTER BEAUTY RAW G830
$96.00
Time Remaining: 25d 8h 24m
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1856 1C Flying Eagle Cent PCGS PR 65 Proof Exceptional Quality Toned
1856 1C Flying Eagle Cent PCGS PR 65 Proof Exceptional Quality Toned
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Time Remaining: 12h 9m
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1858 Flying Eagle Cent F VF small letters
1858 Flying Eagle Cent F VF small letters
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Time Remaining: 6d 13h 19m
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1958 FLYING EAGLE SMALL LETTERS CENT CIRCULATED GRADE GOOD VERY GOOD COIN
1958 FLYING EAGLE SMALL LETTERS CENT CIRCULATED GRADE GOOD VERY GOOD COIN
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Time Remaining: 18d 8h 25m
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1858 Flying Eagle Penny Small Letters Fine
1858 Flying Eagle Penny Small Letters Fine
$8.02 (5 Bids)
Time Remaining: 3d 12h 37m
1858 Flying Eagle Cent Large Letters Fine Plus
1858 Flying Eagle Cent Large Letters Fine Plus
$30.00
Time Remaining: 25d 12h 22m
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1858 Flying Eagle One Cent Penny
1858 Flying Eagle One Cent Penny
$6.50 (5 Bids)
Time Remaining: 3d 5h 29m
1857 Flying Eagle Cent Penny Good Condition 8SU
1857 Flying Eagle Cent Penny Good Condition 8SU
$4.75 (9 Bids)
Time Remaining: 6h 2m
1857 FLYING EAGLE CENT
1857 FLYING EAGLE CENT
$6.49 (7 Bids)
Time Remaining: 7d 13h 50m
1857 Flying Eagle Cent   O9729
1857 Flying Eagle Cent O9729
$39.00
Time Remaining: 21d 11h 8m
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1858 Indian Cent 1 Large Letters Fine
1858 Indian Cent 1 Large Letters Fine
$15.50 (7 Bids)
Time Remaining: 12h 21m

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