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 Obverse of 1858 Flying Eagle Cent, Large Letters variety      Reverse of 1858 Flying Eagle Cent, Large Letters variety


1858 ONE CENT

Mintage:
Circulation strikes: 24,600,000
Proofs: estimated 160-200

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, PA)

Notes:
The "Large Letters" designation refers to lettering on the obverse (see illustrations above).  On the Large Letters variety, the letters A and M of AMERICA touch each other, whereas on the Small Letters variety, they are clearly separated.  The Flying Eagle Cents of 1856 and 1857 are of the Large Letters variety.  The finest Uncirculated "Large Letters" example graded by PCGS is a single MS-67. The actual size of the lettering is clearly smaller on the 1858 Small Letters variety and appears to be a minor modification of the design type.  The finest Uncirculated "Small Letters" examples graded by PCGS are 5 MS-66's.  The finest Uncirculated "1858/7" examples graded by PCGS are 4 MS-65's.

The original Proof mintage of the Large Letters variety has been estimated to be around 80 pieces, but PCGS had graded 34 examples as of their October 2003 Population Report.  By comparison, the 1858 Small Letters Proof has an estimated mintage of 200 coins and PCGS had graded 46 Proofs as of the October 2003 Population Report.  This suggests that the mintage of the Large Letters Proof has been under-estimated and the correct level is more likely around 150-200 Proofs. The finest "Large Letters" Proof example graded by PCGS are 13 PR-65's.  The finest "Large Letters" Proof Cameo examples graded by PCGS are 3 PR-65's. The finest "Small Letters" Proof example graded by PCGS is a single PR-66.

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

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

Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

Varieties:
Large Letters (see illustrations below)
   Overdate 1858/7
Small Letters (see illustrations below)
   Doubled Die Reverse

Recent appearances:
PCGS graded Proof 65.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, lot 1076, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "Pattern Cent. Small Letter Flying Eagle. J-193…Oak Wreath with Broad Ornamented shield. A very attractive example with a deeply mirrored obverse and moderately mirrored reverse. This is one of the popular 12 piece sets of 1858 pattern cents which were sold by the Mint. The sets were struck in quantities probably approaching 75 sets. Many of the surviving examples are dull and lifeless. This coin is wonderful exception.

The obverse die exhibits a "Broken U" in UNITED, where the inner serif of the letter is missing. This is a hub variety, which could exist on any number of dies. Only a very small number of examples of the J-193 were struck using this obverse die, probably no more than 25. The reverse features an Oak wreath with a wide ornamented shield.", sold for $3,450.00

PCGS graded Proof 65.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, lot 1077, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "Pattern Cent. Large Letter Flying Eagle. J-198…Oak Wreath with Broad Ornamented shield. The present example is essentially flawless piece with moderate mirrors. The coin exhibits a light golden toning. This is probably the finest extant example. Currently there are only 3 coins graded at this level with none graded higher.

All Large Letter 1858 patterns are much rarer than their Small Letter counterparts. It is estimated that only 12 to 20 sets were made with this obverse style. It is probable that the distinction between Large Letter and Small Letter dies was not deemed important at the time of striking. By studying the die states of the reverse, we can tell that these were struck prior to the Small letter patterns. The present example is struck with early die states of both dies.", sold for $4,140.00

PCGS graded Proof 65.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, lot 1078, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "Pattern Cent. J-208…Head with broad bust point / laurel (olive) wreath with 5 leaf clusters. A gorgeous example with deep mirrors and outstanding eye appeal. Very unusual for this issue, which is typically seen rather dull with moderate mirrors. This is certainly one of the most attractive examples of this issue.

This is a popular quasi-transitional pattern with the 1858 date and the Indian head design first used in 1859. This is, however a slightly different designs than the adopted design, most notably in the difference in the bust truncation. The adopted 1859 style has a narrower truncation. The reverse is also slightly different from that adopted in 1859; with the adopted version having 6 leaves in the wreath. True transitional 1858 patterns do exist, but they from a very limited striking from 1859 or later. Because of its popularity at the time of striking, this issue was struck in much higher numbers than the other 1858 patterns, probably as many as 300 pieces.", sold for $4,370.00

PCGS MS-64.  American Numismatic Rarities 07/2003:146

               

     Large Letters Variety                                         Small Letters Variety