Flying Eagle Cent Value (1856–1858)
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The 1856-1858 Flying Eagle cent was the first American "small cent." High copper prices and the cumbersome size of the previously used large cents forced the U.S. Mint to work on a more affordable alternative.
An 88% copper and 12% nickel alloy was chosen for the Flying Eagle cent, replacing the pure copper used until then. The hardness that the nickel imparted to the alloy caused coin dies to break prematurely and resulted in weak strikes on many coins.
Despite this, the Flying Eagle cent met with an enthusiastic response from the public. Anticipating heavy demand, the U.S. Mint set up sales booths in the front yard of the Philadelphia Mint ahead of the coin's official release. By the end of the first day, 3 million Flying Eagle cents had been purchased by the public.
The 1856 Flying Eagle cents were supposed to be pattern pieces to show Congressmen and government officials what the new small coin would look like. When news spread about the new design, the Mint struck more samples. In all, between 1,800 and 2,000 1856 Flying Eagle cents are thought to have been made. Since a good portion of these ended up in circulation, many modern day collectors count 1856 as a circulation year.