The debut strike of 1856 tends to be the most collectible and most valuable Flying Eagle Cent you can find. However, several rare variations and "varieties" exists for all strikes from 1856 through 1858. A must read is A Guide Book of Flying Eagle and Indian Head Cents written by Flying Eagle cent expert Richard Snow. He is the expert in all the different varieties that exist and the book is an excellent way to determine if you have one of these rare Flying Eagle coins.
This 1856 Flying Eagle cent has it all. It’s the debut date of these strikes, it’s in a condition not seen in a higher grade and it’s the preferred Snow-3 variety. It’s no wonder why this coin sold for a staggering $240,000 in September 2020.
When this pristine PCGS MS66 1856 Flying Eagle sold previously, only 2 were graded in MS66 condition - with none higher. Nearly 2 decades has passed since the last sale of $172,500 and now there are 3 graded in this condition by PCGS - with still none higher.
No one is 100% certain if Snow-3 1856 Flying Eagle’s are business strikes or proofs. It’s believed 634 were originally distributed to Congressmen for approval. A small number of these original strikes are believed to be proofs - which earn the Snow-3 variety.
The finest example of the 1858/7 Large Letter Snow-1 / FS-301 variety is in MS65+ condition. This variety features a fancy 7 inside the 8 on the date. This coin originally sold for $74,025 in October 2014 and then came up for auction again in 2021 and sold for $72,000.
PCGS states there are just 3 in MS65 condition. This coin has sold numerous times over the years. First in 2002 for $37,375, then for $92,000 in January 2006. Four years later the coin sold twice in one year for $71,875 in January 2010 and then again for $66,125 in August.
It’s believed that only 100 proofs were struck in 1858. When this coin was sold in 2004 for $57,500 it was the only proof with the Ultra Cameo sub grade. Additionally PCGS had not graded a Large Letter example above PR65 - making this by far the finest example in existence.
This 1856 Flying Eagle is the Snow-9 variety and is graded near perfect PR65+ condition. This coin has sold several times over the years. Fist in 2012 for $35,250, then again for $31,000 in 2018 and most recently in September 2020 for $43,200.
In 1858 two types of Flying Eagles were minted - a Large Letter and Small Letter variety. Both are believed to have similar circulations numbers. This small letter variety is graded PCGS MS66+ which is the finest grade in existence.
This pattern FLying Eagle coin is graded PCGS PR66+ BN. These coins have been counterfeited over the years, so caution is needed if you find one in the wild. This one certified by both PCGS and CAC sold for $39,600 in 2022.
32 have achieved the PCGS MS64 grade and coins in this condition have a long history of coming up for sale. In 2008 one sold for $37,375. In 2012 for $24,150. More recently the coin sold again for $38,400 in May 2022.
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