US Coins

PCGS Proof 45 1856 Flying Eagle cent pleases

More than $6 million in rare U.S. coins traded hands in Heritage’s July 12 to 15 auctions at the Summer Florida United Numismatists convention in Orlando. The auction offered plenty of always-popular keys, among them several lightly circulated examples like the cent shown here.

The 1856 Flying Eagle cent is traditionally collected alongside both pattern issues and regular issues. The estimated mintage of 2,000 coins was likely produced both for circulation and as a more typical Proof pattern production. Series expert Richard Snow has identified multiple die pairings in his book Flying Eagle & Indian Cents, and this one — graded Proof 45 by Professional Coin Grading Service — is designated as Snow 3. 

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Heritage writes, “Although designated as a proof by PCGS, the present cent was probably struck in business format, as one of the originals coined in 1856 to demonstrate the design and smaller diameter to Washington officials.” They were presented as special pieces to contemporary recipients, but many ended up in circulation, although the low face value was no barrier to saving them as a keepsake. 

This one has even wear on both sides and pleasing wheat-gold toning, with a bit more tan coloration on the reverse. The ever-popular issue brought $11,400 at Heritage’s Summer FUN Signature Session.

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