The 1856 Flying Eagle was formed as a pattern which has since been ‘adopted’ by collectors into the series. In fact, a set of Flying Eagles without a 1856 would be presumed incomplete by most observers. Considering its limited total mintage, the coin has become known as a key date and carries a high value at all grade levels. Originally, about 700 pieces were produced and dated 1856 which were disbursed to congress and other influential people. As soon as the new small cents were approved, popularity skyrocketed and the mint produced approximately 3,000 more coins that were sold to collectors. The 1856 Flying Eagle cent has appreciated enormously in value over the years.
It is no secret large copper cents struck since the late 1700’s were very unpopular as well as very costly to produce. This new cent is not only a different design, but composition and weight as well. The obverse features an eagle in flight and the reverse features an agricultural wreath of corn, wheat, cotton and tobacco.
The Flying Eagle was minted only through 1858 due to insufficient metal flow. All Flying Eagle Cents are beautiful addition to any collection, however, the 1856 is the key date for the series. The original small cent design, however, gave collectors of 19th century U.S. coins a short, yet challenging series that continues to intrigue numismatists more than a century later.
Grading circulated coins is a rather straightforward process and many guidebooks are simple to use. In order to determine the value of your coin, it is first necessary that you pay close attention to the overall condition of the coin itself. The points of the design to show wear first are the eagle’s breast and wingtips on the obverse and the bow on the reverse. On mint state coins that are weakly struck on the head or tail of the eagle or on the reverse wreath, it is imperative that mint luster be present on all areas of the design. If you are purchasing a coin and doubt the authenticity of the coin, have it expertly verified.
Uncirculated: An uncirculated 1856 Flying Eagle cent shows very little signs of wear. Light wear can be seen on parts of the coin and luster is present among the letters. As seen by how much money collectors are willing to shell out for these coins, it is clear to see that an Uncirculated 1856 Flying Eagle is by no means an easy find.
Extremely Fine: A coin graded extremely fine has more wear than an uncirculated coin. There may be more marks and wear shows on the wing area. Wear shows on the higher areas but detail is still present.
Fine: A Flying Head deserving of a Fine grade will show a good amount of wear. Wear has eliminated some details on the chest and tail of the eagle. The majority of the feathers in the wing show but are smooth towards the edges. The bow on the reverse shows separation from the wreath.
Good: A 1856 Flying Head will show heavy wear from circulation which has left the eagle as only a profile with few of the major design elements remaining. Parts of the rim are weak and merging into the lettering. On the reverse the bow has blended with the wreath.
No matter what the grade of your 1856 Flying Eagle, you can rest-assured knowing you will get quite the sum of money for it. Even in terrible condition these coins are worth a lot, but in Uncirculated condition, these coins are worth significantly more. The chart below will give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay for a Flying Eagle of 1856, given its grade.
1856 Flying Eagle Penny
|1856||$6,500||$9,000||$12,500||$14,500||Source: Red Book|