Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Flying Eagle Cent

The flying eagle cent was designed and produced to fulfil a need. Coinage in the United States in the 1840's through the 1860's was a confused state of affairs. Large cents were being produced, but were not considered legal tender. Thus, many merchants would not accept them as payment. There was also a large amount of foreign money circulating, most of it Spanish. It was also costing the US Mint more to produce the Large Cent than it was intrinsically worth.

So in 1856 a small number of the first Small Cents in US history were produced. These were supposed to be sample pieces and returned to the mint. But most weren't. In 1857 the first Flying Eagle cents were minted for circulation. These would continue in production until 1859, when it's successor the Indian Head Cent would be minted.

The Flying Eagles would consist of an alloy of 88% nickel and 12% copper. The main problems with the Flying Eagle was in the design, which allowed the two high points in the obverse in the same area of the coin, causing a weakness in the strike. In addition, the designer, James B. Longacre, was by trade a painter and not a sculptor. He had trouble carving the dies out deep enough, which caused more production problems. Thus, the Flying Eagle exited the stage after a run of only two years. © 2012 Hobby Hobnob Back to Coin Collecting

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