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1858 Flying Eagle Cents | Flying Eagle Cents by Date | Small Cents by Type

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


1858 ONE CENT - SMALL LETTERS

PCGS Nos: 2020, 2042

Mintage:
Circulation strikes: unknown
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)

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 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 4 MS-66's,

The 1858 Small Letters Proof has an estimated mintage of 200 coins and PCGS had graded 87 Proofs as of the January 2003 Population Report.  

The finest "Small Letters" Proof examples graded by PCGS are 6 PR-65's.

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"The PCGS Population Report, April 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

Recent appearances:
PCGS Proof-65 (illustrated above).
- Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc. "Santa Clara" Sale, November 1999, Lot 6304

Proof 64.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4010, "Small Letters", illustrated, sold for $12,075.00

Net Proof-50, sharpness of Proof-60, Polished.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Lake Geneva Sale", June 28-29, 2001, Lot 134, "Small Letters", illustrated, sold for $546.25

PCGS MS-66.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4011, "Small Letters", illustrated, sold for $8,337.50

NGC MS-66.  Ex - Superior Galleries "The ANA 2001 National Money Show Auction", March 8-9, 2001, Lot 27, "Small Letters", unsold

NGC MS-66.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1119, "Small Letters", sold for $3,565.00

NGC MS-65.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 7513, "Small Letters", illustrated, sold for $2,196.50  Ex Newcomb

NGC MS-64.  American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003, Lot 147, "1858 Small Letters, Repunched 185, Low Leaves, Snow-2, 2-R-III, Rarity-unassigned", illustrated, sold for $1,955.00

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1182, "Small Letters",  illustrated, sold for $1,207.00  From the Howard R. Newcomb collection of Indian Cents, purchased June 30, 1944 from J.G. McCallister"

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4012, "Small Letters", not illustrated, sold for $1,667.50

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Philadelphia 2000 Signature Sale", August 6-7, 2000, Lot 6585, "Small Letters", not illustrated, sold for $718.75

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Bowers and Merena Galleries' Robert W. Schwan Collection Sale, October 26-27, 2000, Lot 314, "Small Letters", sold for $1,725.00

PCGS MS-64.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "The California Sale", October 2-3, 2000, Lot 1407, "Small Letters"

NGC MS-63.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Philadelphia 2000 Signature Sale", August 6-7, 2000, Lot 6584, "Small Letters", not illustrated, sold for $345.00

ANACS MS-63.  American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003, Lot 148, "1858 Small Letters, Doubled Die Reverse, Low Leaves, Snow-3a, FND-001, 1-R-III, Rarity-unassigned", illustrated, sold for $1,495.00

PCGS MS-64.  American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003, Lot 149, "1858 Small Letters, Broken U in legend, High leaves, Snow-unlisted, Rarity-unassigned", illustrated, sold for $1,265.00

Choice Brilliant Uncirculated, virtually Gem.  Ex - Stack's "65th Anniversary Sale", October 17-19, 2000, Lot 100, "Small letters", not plated, sold for $891.25

MS-60.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4013, "Small Letters", not illustrated, sold for $299.00

PCGS AU-58.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4014, "Small Letters", not illustrated, sold for $207.00

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 graded Proof-64.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, lot 1080, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "Small letters… A very attractive example of this rare issue. High leaf reverse. A light mark above the date and scattered hairlines on the obverse and a contact mark on the reverse above the O in ONE serve to lower the grade out of the gem category. Still, this coin is a stunning example for the grade.

The mintage of 200 given in many catalogs seems is probably the upper range of the real mintage, with 100 being a more appropriate guess. Estimates of survivors based on auction records are a bit too high because of the addition of prooflike examples that were most likely issued in one of the issues of the 1858 Pattern sets (Eliasberg 5/96:609 is but one example). The PCGS population report also gives too generous a number of pieces graded. All 1858 Flying Eagles graded before the early 1990's were lumped into one listing which, when separated, became the Small Letter population. The number extant of no question Small Letter proofs is on the order of a total 75 examples, closer to the rarity of the 1857 issue than the 1858 Large letter.

The present example carries the "High Leaf " reverse, with the leaves by the C & T in CENT long, extending slightly above the base of the letters. This is the same die as used in conjunction with the Large Letter obverse, although in a later die state. Small Letter Proofs come with both "High Leaf" and "Low Leaf" reverses. The examples issued in the pattern sets all used the "Low leaf" reverse designs, which is a redesign made at some point in the middle of the production this year to lower the relief of the reverse die.

The Small Letter design is a redesign made in mid-year and is actually a type unto itself. The most obvious change are the smaller letters, but the eagle is also sports a slight modification. It is possible that this change was made to promote an extended die life, as with the reverse redesign.", sold for $12,075.00

PCGS graded MS-65.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, lot 1081, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "Small letters, low leaves reverse…This example is a beautiful fully struck gem with dazzling eye appeal. Mostly brilliant with a light golden toning. Some minor contact marks are present, but these do not detract from the look of the coin. Some light doubling visible on the date and right side of the coin is caused by strike doubling, a typical occurrence on the 1858 Small Letter cents.

The Mintage of 1858 Flying Eagles is divided fairly evenly between Large Letter and Small Letter types. The Small Letter design is a new style, one might say it's the style of 1858, whereas the Large Letters type could be called the style of 1857. In addition to the letters being smaller, the eagle was slightly redesigned as well. This is a whole separate design type, not just a minor modification.

In 1858 the reverses were redesigned as well. The style used in 1857 and early 1858 had a bolder wreath and denomination. The new style (seen on this example) has a shallower wreath and denomination. This is called "Low leaves" due to the length of the leaves inside the wreath below the C & T. The 1857 style, called "High leaves" has higher leaves in these positions.", sold for $3,910.00

            

           Large Letters Variety                                              Small Letters Variety                 

 
 

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