Previous Date | Next Date | Flying Eagle Cents by Date | Small Cents by Type

 Obverse of 1856 Flying Eagle Cent      Reverse of 1856 Flying Eagle Cent


1856 ONE CENT - FLYING EAGLE

PCGS Nos: 2013, 2037

Mintage:

Circulation strikes: estimated 750
Proofs: estimated 1,500

Designer: James Barton Longacre (using Christian Gobrecht's eagle design)

Diameter: ±19 millimeters

Metal content:
Copper - ±88%
Nickel - ±12% 

Weight: ±72 grains (±4.7 grams)

Edge: Plain

Mintmark: None (all examples of this date and type were struck at Philadelphia)

Notes:
Following research in the National Archives, Walter Breen published the following distribution of 1856 Flying Eagle Cents:

264 (or more) to Congressmen
200 to Representative S.D. Campbell
102 to Secretary of the Treasury James Guthrie
62 to Senators
4 to President Franklin Pierce
2 to the Mint Cabinet
Additional pieces were given to dignitaries and others
"Several hundred may have been held in stock in the Mint for later distribution to collectors, or to trade them for Washington medals for the Mint Cabinet"

Notes:
The finest Uncirculated examples graded by PCGS are 2 MS-66's.

The finest Proof example graded by PCGS is a single PR-67.

Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

Recent appearances:
Heritage Numismatic Auctions November 1999 Santa Clara Sale (Lot 6300)

PCGS graded Proof 65.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, lot 1074, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "Snow-5. Die pair…This is one of the most visually stunning 1856 Flying Eagle cent that could possibly exist. A sharp early die state example that is virtually mark free. Visually, there is no question of this coin's proof status. It has an absolutely full strike and is of the highest production quality witnessed on any 1856 Flying Eagle. This example is struck from the Snow 5 die pair, which was first described in 1992 in Rick Snow's book "Flying Eagle and Indian Cents". Only 10 examples of this die pair have been seen by this author, perhaps less than 35 examples of this die pair exist in all grades.  This die pair is a marriage of Obverse 2 and Reverse D as described in Snow. It is unlisted in Breen's die list found in Chapter XV of his Proof Encyclopedia. The obverse die is distinguished by a die chip at the base of the U in UNITED, called the "Pointed U". The reverse is a commonly encountered die, which is clearly identifiable by the large raised dot under the upper left serif of the N in ONE. This is a centering dot used by the engraver to fix one end of a protractor to draw circles on the unfinished die to center the wreath. The obverse die shows die striations visible in the field in three different directions. As the coin is rotated, striations in one direction become visible and then disappear as another set of striations appears. The reverse die has similar striations. These striations are found on all coins from this die pair.  To the uninitiated, die striations may be confused with hairline scratches. However, hairline scratches are grade-limiting problems caused by aggressive brushing or wiping of the coin after it has been struck. Die striations are polishing marks on the die, which are transferred to each coin until the die wears down enough to obliterate them. They do not affect the grade.  In the past there had been some confusion on the part of the grading services as to whether coins from this die pair are actually proofs or should be called Mint State because of the presence of these die striations. The first one identified and written up in Snow was unquestionably a proof. In the years that followed several more coins of the same die pair came to light, all exceptionally nice (possibly from the same unidentified source). This writer has seen coins from this die pair graded MS-63 (2 examples), PR-64, PR-65 (the present example), and MS-66 (Superior 6/5/2000:1003, $83,375) from PCGS, and a PR-65 from NGC. Recently PCGS has made it clear that they will only grade the Snow 5 die pair as a proof.  The commonly encountered proof 1856 Flying Eagles (Snow 9 die pair) are also struck using Reverse D, although in a later die state. These have been shown to be restrikes from the 1858 - 1860 "Snowdon" restriking period. (See Longacre's Ledger, Vol. 10.2, June, 2000, "Die states of the 1856 Flying Eagle Cent" By Richard Snow). The Snow 5 proofs are from the earliest die states seen from both dies. There is no way to accurately show exactly when the Snow 5 were struck, except to say that they were struck before all Snow 9 proof 1856 Flying Eagles, possibly even as early as 1857.  Here is an extremely beautiful 1856 Flying Eagle. One of the finest possible.", sold for $29,325.00

PCGS Proof-65.  Breen “Reverse D.”  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 254, illustrated, sold for $20,700.00

PCGS Proof-65.  Bowers and Merena Galleries "The Rarities Sale" January 7, 2003, Lot 27, illustrated, "Snow-9", sold for $19,550.00

PCGS Proof-65.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 7515, illustrated, unsold  Ex Winsor Sale (Chapman, 12/1895); J.M. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 5/96, lot 606 

PCGS Proof-65.  Offered for $24,500 by The Mint in an advertisement in the July 18, 2000 issue of Numismatic News.

PCGS Proof-64.  Ex - Bowers and Merena Galleries "The Rarities Sale", September 22, 2002, Lot 30, "...Snow-9...", illustrated, sold for $12,650.00

PCGS Proof-64.  Ex - Bowers and Merena Galleries "The Rarities Sale", July 31, 2002, Lot 50, "...Snow-5, Reverse D...", illustrated, sold for $13,800.00

PCGS Proof-64.  Ex - Bowers and Merena Galleries' Robert W. Schwan Collection Sale, October 26-27, 2000, Lot 312, "Snow-4...Proof restrike, according to Richard Snow, with the reverse die also used to produce 1858 Small Letters Proof cents", sold for $11,500.00

Proof-64.  Ex - Heritage's "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 5443, "Breen-1924, Judd-180", plated, sold for $21,850.00  From the Gary Nelson Collection

PCGS Proof-63.  Snow-9.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 255, illustrated, sold for $11,212.50.

PCGS Proof 63.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4001, illustrated, sold for $8,912.50

PCGS Proof-63.  Ex - Bowers and Merena Galleries "The Rarities Sale", July 31, 2002, Lot 51, "...Snow-9, Reverse D.", illustrated, sold for $9,775.00

PCGS Proof-63.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1097, "Snow-9", sold for $12,650.00

PCGS MS-63.  Ex - Superior Galleries "Pre-Long Beach" Elite Coin Auction, May 25-27, 2003, Lot 2001, sold for $14,950.00

Proof-62.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part III", May 21, 2001, Lot 1345, illustrated, sold for $9,487.50

PCGS Proof-61.  Ex- Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Sale" October 5-7, 2000, Lot 5896, plated, sold for $8,050.00

Proof 60 plus.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1162, illustrated, sold for $8,337.00

Brilliant Proof.  Ex - Stack's 12/2003:24, "Snow 9", sold for $7,762.50

PCGS Proof 58.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4002, illustrated, sold for $7,475.00

PCGS Proof-55.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1098, "Snow-9", sold for $6,325.00

Proof-50.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1099, "Snow-9", sold for $5,290.00

MS-63.   Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1163, illustrated, sold for $7,187.00 "From the Howard R. Newcomb collection of Indian Cents, purchased June 30, 1944 from J.G. McCallister"

MS-63.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Philadelphia 2000 Signature Sale", August 6-7, 2000, Lot 5412, plated, sold for $9,200.00

MS-63 Reverse spot tooled.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Philadelphia 2000 Signature Sale", August 6-7, 2000, Lot 5413, plated, sold for $8,625.00

PCGS MS-62.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4003, illustrated, sold for $9,200.00

SEGS MS-61, "Soft Strike."  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4004, "Snow-3", illustrated, not sold

PCGS MS-62, Brilliant Uncirculated, virtually a Choice specimen.  Ex - Stack's "65th Anniversary Sale", October 17-19, 2000, Lot 96, "Snow-3", plated, sold for $8,912.00 According to Richard Snow, the copper-nickel pieces struck from this die marriage are quite possibly the 300-500 examples sent to Congress in early February 1857 

MS-60 Cleaned.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Santa Clara Signature Sale", November 16-17, 2000, Lot 5056, illustrated, sold for $6,503.25

Net AU-58, sharpness of AU-58.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1100, "Snow-9", sold for $4,600.00

EF-40, Cleaned.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coin & Collectibles' "The Fairchild Family Trust Collection Sale", May 28-30, 2001, Lot 177, illustrated, sold for $4,485.00

PCGS VF-30.  Ex - Superior Galleries "Pre-Long Beach" Elite Coin Auction, May 25-27, 2003, Lot 2002, sold for $7,475.00 

Net VF-25, sharpness VF-35, Lightly cleaned.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part III", May 21, 2001, Lot 1346, illustrated, sold for $5,290.00

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"The PCGS Population Report, October 2003" by The Professional Coin Grading Service