This guide is will give you an estimate of how much money your Flying Eagle pennies minted from 1856 to 1858 are worth. The table below provides average coin prices and values based upon the grade or condition of the coin.
History of the Flying Eagle Penny
In 1849 the United States Treasury Department became concerned with the rising price of copper. In 1851 the price of copper subsided somewhat, but by 1853 the price rose again to the point where the mint was losing money for every large cent they were producing. In the spring of 1856, the mint began experimenting with a mixture of 88% copper and 12% nickel to be used for a new one cent coin.
On July 11, 1856, Mint Director James Ross Snowden recommended a new small cent coin to be produced. Chief Engraver James B. Longacre was instructed to start producing sample designs on pattern coins to be evaluated by the Secretary of the Treasury. Longacre's obverse design consisted of an eagle flying to the left and very similar to that used on the 1836 silver dollar by Christian Gobrecht. The reverse had a wreath similar to a wreath that Longacre used on one dollar and three dollar gold coins.
Flying Eagle pennies were only minted for three years. The 1856 issue was only to be a trial for the new smaller size penny. Approximately 1,000 to 2,500 of them were minted and they are extremely rare. If you have a sizable accumulation of Flying Eagle cents, you need to sort them and organize them so the dealer can quickly see what you have.
Key Dates, Rarities, and Varieties
The following Flying Eagle cents in any condition, are worth considerable more than common Flying Eagle pennies. As such, these coins are frequently counterfeit or altered from common Flying Eagle cents. Therefore, before you start celebrating your new found fortune, have the coin authenticated by a reputable coin dealer or third party grading service.
- 1856 (extremely rare, be cautious of counterfeits and altered coins)
- All Proof Issues
Condition or Grade Examples
If your coin is worn and looks similar to the one illustrated in the link below, it is considered a circulated coin.
- Photo of a Circulated Flying Eagle Penny
If your coin looks similar to the one illustrated in the link below and has no evidence of wear due to being in circulation, it is considered an uncirculated coin.
- Photo of an Uncirculated Flying Eagle Penny
All Flying Eagle cents were produced at the Philadelphia Mint and do not have a mint mark.
Flying Eagle Cents Average Prices and Values
The following table lists the buy price (what you can expect to pay to a dealer to purchase the coin) and sell value (what you can expect a dealer to pay you if you sell the coin). The first column lists the coin's date followed by the buy price and the sell value for an average circulated Flying Eagle Cent. The next two columns list the buy price and the sell value for an average uncirculated. These are approximate retail prices and wholesale values. The actual offer you receive from a particular coin dealer will vary depending on the actual grade of the coin and a number of other factors that determine its worth.
|Date & Mint||Circ. Buy||Circ. Sell||Unc. Buy||Unc. Sell|
|1858 Lg. Letters||$32.00||$23.00||$680.00||$500.00|
|1858 Lg. Letters Proof||-||-||$5,800.00||$4,300.00|
|1858 Sm. Letters||$32.00||$22.00||$770.00||$610.00|
|1858 Sm. Letters Proof||-||-||$5,200.00||$4,000.00|
"-" (dash) = Not Applicable or not enough data exists to calculate an average price
* = See the section above "Key Dates, Rarities and Varieties" for more information on these coins.
Technically this coin was minted for three years (1856, 1857 and 1858) and the 1856 issue is considered a pattern coin. However, most coin collectors do not consider their collection of Flying Eagle cents complete without the 1856 issue. Given the low mintage of the 1856 coin, it is extremely rare and expensive in any grade. Most collectors do not consider their collection of Flying Eagle penny is complete without it.
Additionally, there are only three varieties in the series and most collectors try to obtain all of them:
- 1858 Double Die Obverse (1858/7)
- 1858 Large Letters
- 1858 Small Letters