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1857 Flying Eagle Cent

The 1857 Flying Eagle Cent was the first coin of the series struck for circulation. The prior 1856-dated issue had been produced as a pattern to show the concept of a small cent to members of Congress and other influential individuals. The prior one cent coins had been heavier and larger, but contained a great deal more copper. There had been worries that the public would feel that their coinage was being debased.

When the new Flying Eagle Cent was released, it was met with enthusiasm from the public. There were long lines to obtain examples of the new coins, and some were immediately sold for greater than face value on the street. The Mint allowed people to exchange their circulating foreign silver and old copper issues for the new cents. On the whole, the switch from a large sized cent to a small cent was a success.

There were ultimately 17,450,000 1857 Flying Eagle Cents produced. Because many examples were saved by the public, a steady supply of coins remain available for collectors today, although very high grade coins can become expensive.