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 1857 Flying Eagle Cent Obverse     1857 Flying Eagle Cent Reverse


1857 ONE CENT - FLYING EAGLE

PCGS Nos: 2016, 2040

Mintage:

Circulation strikes: 17,450,000
Proofs: estimated 500 (see notes)

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:
1857 saw the end of an era as the old, bulky Large Cents were replaced with a new, smaller One Cent piece designed by James Longacre (the "new" design was actually an old one, borrowed from the reverse of Christian Gobrecht's Silver Dollars of 1836-1839).  The metal composition was changed from nearly pure Copper to a Copper-Nickel mixture that gave added strength and a lighter color, earning the coins the nickname "White Cents."  To ensure widespread distribution, the Mint produced over 17,000,000 of the new Small Cents, nearly six times the production of Large Cents in the previous year.

The finest Uncirculated examples graded by PCGS are 11 MS-66's.

According to the description in the Reed Hawn catalogue (cited below), "Fewer than 12 Proofs are known to exist today".  This may have been taken from Breen's "Encyclopedia" where he does not list a Proof mintage but notes: "...under 12 traced".  This conflicts with the October
2003 PCGS Population Report, which shows 44 examples certified, ranging in grade from a single PR-60 to 11 PR-66's. Included in the 44 are 5 Proof Cameo's; the finest being a single PR-65CA.  The original Proof mintage has been estimated by other experts to be from 485-500 pieces, a range consistent with the introduction of a new design type and justified by the number of coins examined so far by the grading services.

Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

Varieties:
Obverse with clashmarks from a $20
Obverse with clashmarks from a Half Dollar
Reverse with clashmarks from a Quarter Dollar
Doubled Die Obverse
Repunched Date 1857/1857
Repunched Date 1857/157/57
Repunched Date 1857/85

Recent appearances:
PCGS graded Proof 65.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, lot 1075, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "…The example offered here shows a beautiful frosty Eagle over a deep mirror field. The black and white contrast gives this coin the look of an Eagle flying in clear moonless night sky. Proof Flying Eagle Cents are as beautiful as they are rare. The present example displays very few impairments. What initially may be thought to be hairline scratches are actually die polishing marks, which do not limit the grade. The reverse fields are equally deep mirrored. There are a few light hairlines and some flyspecking visible under magnification, but do not appreciably detract from the overall beauty of this piece. Presently only 8 examples are graded by PCGS in this grade with none higher.

Here is a real rarity in the proof cent series. An estimated 50 examples survive from 3 die pairs. The Red Book estimated mintage of 485 is either not based in fact or over 400 examples of this issue were destroyed or lost. Breen lists this issue as "less than 12 traced" and gives no estimated mintage. This estimate is a bit low, as Breen was only counting examples from one die pair, identified by the prominent die line which connects the I in UNITED to the denticles. The present coin is from that die pair. Rick Snow's "Flying Eagle and Indian Cent Attribution Guide" lists the die pair as PR-1. There are 3 die pairs known on this proof issue, however one of these (PR-3) also shows up on business strike issues, making attribution by die diagnostics alone tricky. The PR-1 die pair, offered here, and the PR-2 die pair come with their own credentials as no question proofs.", sold for $27,600.00

NGC MS-65.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 138, "1857 Flying Eagle, Reverse die clashed with Liberty Seated quarter die, Snow-8, FND-002, FS1-005, Rarity-7", illustrated, unsold

PCGS MS-65.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 132, "1857 Flying Eagle, Obverse of 1856, Repunched Date, Snow-1, FND-008, FS1-001, Rarity-6", illustrated, sold for $4,600.00

PCGS MS-65.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1164, illustrated, sold for $3,450.00   Purchased from Ira S. Reed on 2/26/1944 for $2.50!

PCGS MS-65.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1165, illustrated, sold for $3,220.00

MS-65.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Philadelphia 2000 Signature Sale", August 6-7, 2000, Lot 5415, plated, sold for $3,220.00

PCGS MS-65.  Ex- Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Sale" October 5-7, 2000, Lot 5892, plated, sold for $2,817.50

PCGS MS-65.  Ex- Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Sale" October 5-7, 2000, Lot 5893, not plated, sold for $3,910.00

NGC MS-65.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1101, sold for $1,725.00

NGC MS-65.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 7509, illustrated, not sold

PCGS MS-65.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 7510, illustrated, sold for $3,450.00  Ex Newcomb

PCGS MS-65.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4006, illustrated, sold for $3,335.00

PCGS MS-64.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 133, "1857 Flying Eagle, Obverse of 1856, Snow-2d, Rarity-5", illustrated, sold for $1,160.00

PCGS MS-64.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 134, "1857 Flying Eagle, Doubled Die Obverse, Snow-3, FND-004, FS1-002, 8-O-I, Rarity-5", illustrated, sold for $1,150.00

PCGS MS-64.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 135, "1857 Flying Eagle, Doubled Die Reverse, Snow 4, 2-O-I, Rarity-5", illustrated, sold for $1,725.00

PCGS MS-64.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 136, "1857 Flying Eagle, Doubled Die Obverse, Snow-5, FND-006, Rarity-6", illustrated, sold for $1,955.00

PCGS MS-64.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 143, "Doubled Die Obverse, Snow-14, 10-O-I, Rarity-6", illustrated, sold for $1,380.00

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1166, illustrated, sold for $2,185.00 From the Howard R. Newcomb Collection of Indian Cents purchased June 30, 1944 from J.G. Macallister

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1167, not illustrated, sold for $1,782.00

NGC MS-64.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1168, not illustrated, sold for $604.00

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "The California Sale", October 2-3, 2000, Lot 1406

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4007, not illustrated, sold for $833.75

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1102, sold for $1,150.00

NGC MS-64.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1103, sold for $632.50

NGC MS-64.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1104, sold for $690.00

NGC MS-64.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1105, "FS-002, Double die obverse", sold for $747.50

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 7506, not illustrated, sold for $977.50

NGC MS-64.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 7507, not illustrated, sold for $695.75

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 7508, not illustrated, sold for $805.00

NGC MS-63.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 144, "Doubled Die Obverse, Snow-15, FS1-002.3, 3-O-I, Rarity-6", illustrated, sold for $1,092.50

NGC MS-64.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 145, "Misplaced Digits with Die Cud, Snow-16, Rarity-7", illustrated, sold for $2,530.00

PCGS MS-63.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 142, "Repunched 857, Snow-11, FND-005, FS1-001.5, Rarity-7", illustrated, sold for $1,840.00

PCGS MS-63.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1169, not illustrated, sold for $1,006.00

NGC MS-63.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Philadelphia 2000 Signature Sale", August 6-7, 2000, Lot 6582, not illustrated, sold for $391.00

MS-63 PVC.  Ex-  Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "October 2000 Long Beach Sale", October 5-7, 2000, Lot 6652, not illustrated, sold for $345.00

MS-63.  Ex - Superior Galleries "The ANA 2001 National Money Show Auction", March 8-9, 2001, Lot 25, sold for $517.50

Choice Brilliant Uncirculated.  Ex - Stack's "65th Anniversary Sale", October 17-19, 2000, Lot 97, not plated,  sold for $690.00

Choice Brilliant Uncirculated.  Ex - Stack's "The Marvin Taichert Collection of U.S. Type Coins", May 9, 2001, Lot 83, plated, sold for $2,875.00  Ex Abner Kreisberg's sale of May 21, 1966, lot 2131

Brilliant Uncirculated, Doubled Die Obverse.  Ex - Stack's "65th Anniversary Sale", October 17-19, 2000, Lot 99, "Snow-4", not plated, sold for $517.50

Brilliant Uncirculated.  Ex - Stack's "65th Anniversary Sale", October 17-19, 2000, Lot 98, "Obv. of 1856", not plated, sold for $172.50

Brilliant Uncirculated.  Ex - Stack's "The University of Notre Dame Sale", March 20-21, 2001, Lot 146, not plated, sold for $316.25

PCI MS-62.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4008, not illustrated, sold for $402.50

ANACS MS-61.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 141, "1857 Flying Eagle, Triple-punched date numerals, Snow-10, FND-007, FS1-003.7, 6-O-1, Rarity-6", illustrated, sold for $862.50

MS-60.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1170, "FSI-003, Snow-9", illustrated, sold for $719.00  The rare 1857 Flying Eagle clashed with a Seated Half Dollar Reverse.  Snow believes this strange clashed die combination is the responsibility of Frederick Eckfeldt, son of George Eckfeldt, the Foreman of the Mint.

MS-60.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coin & Collectibles' "The Fairchild Family Trust Collection Sale", May 28-30, 2001, Lot 178, not illustrated, sold for $1,093.00

PCGS MS-60.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4009, not illustrated, sold for $149.50

NGC AU-58.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 137, "Obverse die clashed with Liberty $20 die, Snow-7, FND-001, FS1-004, Rarity-6", illustrated, unsold  The finest known of the variety; the Snow, Steve-Flynn, and Bowers Plate Coin.

AU-55.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coin & Collectibles' "The Fairchild Family Trust Collection Sale", May 28-30, 2001, Lot 179, not illustrated, sold for $115.00

VF-30.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "The Benson Collection - Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1172, not illustrated, sold for $46.00

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

"Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins" by Walter Breen

"Flying Eagle and Indian Cent Varieties" by Larry R. Steve and Kevin J. Flynn

    
Images courtesy of Superior Stamp & Coin
From Superior Stamp & Coin's "Pre-Long Beach Sale", February 7-8, 2000, Lot 2,
"Mint State 65...the consignor purchased this as a Proof", sold for $1,207.50