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

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

               

Large Letters Variety                                              Small Letters Variety   
    


1858 ONE CENT - FLYING EAGLE -
LARGE LETTERS

PCGS Nos: 2019, 2043

Mintage:

Circulation strikes: Unknown
Proofs: estimated 500 (see notes)

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, PA)

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 "Large Letters" example graded by PCGS is a single MS-67.

The original Proof mintage of the Large Letters variety has been estimated to be around 80 pieces, but PCGS already lists 36 Proof examples in its "Population Report."  However, this figure is inflated because, until 1992, PCGS lumped all 1858 Flying Eagle Cents into the Large Letters category, regardless of whether they were Small or Large Letters!  NGC has graded 31 Proof 1858 Large Letters, the finest of which are 3 PR-67s (2 PR-67 Cameos and 1 PR-67 Ultra Cameo).  The finest "Large Letters" Proof examples graded by PCGS are 15 PR-65's.  The finest Proof Cameo "Large Letters" example graded by PCGS is a single PR-65CA.

 

Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

Significant examples:
NGC Proof-66 Cameo.  Ex - Bowers and Merena Galleries "The Rarities Sale", September 22, 2002, Lot 34, sold for $20,700.00

Recent appearances:
PCGS Proof-65 (illustrated above).  Heritage Numismatic Auctions November 1999 Santa Clara Sale, Lot 630

PCGS graded Proof 65.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, lot 1079, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "Large letters… A fabulous deep mirror cameo example with frosty devices. A contact mark in the field between STATES and the eagle is the only mentionable impairment, but is easily overshadowed by the extremely beautiful eye appeal.

This, like all Flying Eagle cents, is very rare in proof format. A mintage of 80 is given in various pricing guides. This number represents the best guess of numismatists in the past and may be close to the number of survivors, not the original mintage. Barring the discovery of official Mint records, a good guess at the original mintage could be closer to 200. Regardless, this is a rare coin and should garner considerable competition.

The PCGS populations are slightly skewed due to the addition of the Large Letter listing in the early 1990's. Early population reports combined both Large Letter and Small Letter proofs into one figure. When the two were divided, all previously submitted 1858's were listed as the Small Letter. Both populations are small, so in the intervening years additional submissions and regrades have slowly made the listing slightly useful. Less than 20 examples of both styles have been graded by PCGS.

Only one die pair has been seen for this issue. The obverse is easily identified by two small die file marks extending from the denticles below the first 8. This die was also used for the 1858 Patterns featuring the Large Letter flying eagle obverse. The reverse die is identified by a microscopic die file mark extending from the denticles at 11:30. This die is found on a few examples paired with the Small Letter obverse.

Die diagnostics for this issue are important, as there is a group of about 20 or so high grade examples with highly prooflike fields. The prooflike examples can be deceiving except that they mostly all have a die crack by the eagles tail, an attribute that in itself should make their attribution as non-proofs easy. Color photo.", sold for $18,975.00

PCGS MS-66.  Ex - Superior Galleries "The ANA 2001 National Money Show Auction", March 8-9, 2001, Lot 26, "Large Letters", sold for $8,050.00

PCGS MS-66.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Lake Geneva Sale", June 28-29, 2001, Lot 131, "Large Letters", illustrated, sold for $9,775.00

PCGS MS-65.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1176, "Large Letters, illustrated, sold for $4,830.00 From the Howard R. Newcomb collection of Indian Cents, purchased June 30, 1944 from J.G. McCallister"

PCGS MS-65.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Philadelphia 2000 Signature Sale", August 6-7, 2000, Lot 6583, "Large Letters", not illustrated, sold for $3,105.00

PCGS MS-65.  Ex- Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Sale" October 5-7, 2000, Lot 5895, "Large Letters", plated, sold for $3,737.50

PCGS MS-65.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 4015, "Large Letters", illustrated, sold for $3,795.00

NGC MS-65.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 7512, "Large letters", illustrated, unsold

NGC MS-65.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Rarities Sale", January 3, 2001, Lot 50, "Large Letters", illustrated, sold for $2,070.00

NGC MS-65.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Rarities Sale", January 3, 2001, Lot 51, "Large Letters", illustrated, sold for $2,472.00

NGC MS-64.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 256, "Large Letters", illustrated, sold for $3,105.00

PCGS MS-64.  American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003, Lot 152, "Large Letters, High Leaves, Snow-unlisted, Rarity-unassigned", illustrated, sold for $1,955.00

NGC MS-64.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1178, "Large Letters", illustrated, sold for$ 1,035.00   This is a scarce doubled die obverse (FS# 1˘ 005.5).  Not listed in Breen

SEGS MS-64.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1179, "Large Letters", not illustrated, sold for $805.00

PCGS MS-64,  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1177, "Large Letters", illustrated, sold for $1,035.00

PCGS MS-64.  Ex- Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Sale" October 5-7, 2000, Lot 5894, "Large Letters", not plated, sold for 
$1,063.75

ANACS MS-63.  American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003, Lot 151, "Large Letters, Repunched Date, Low Leaves, Snow-9, Rarity-unassigned", illustrated, sold for $862.50

MS-63.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1180, "Large Letters", illustrated, sold for $575.00

NGC MS-63.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1117, "Large letters", sold for $391.00

MS-60 PLus.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, Lot 1181, "Large Letters", illustrated, sold for $776.00

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"The PCGS Population Report, April 2003" by The Professional Coin Grading Service

"The NGC Census Report, April 2003" by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation

"Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins" by Walter Breen

"Flying Eagle and Indian Cent Varieties" by Larry R. Steve and Kevin J. Flynn