US Coins

An unusual and awkward Flying Eagle pattern cent

One of the more focused collections to come to market in recent memory was Steve Brewer’s group of Flying Eagle cent patterns, which sold at Kagin’s March 9 to 10 auctions.

The collector was attracted to the series because of the relative value of the various patterns, especially when compared to the popular (and expensive) 1856 Flying Eagle cent pattern that is regularly collected as part of the regular issue series (the piece cataloged as Judd 180).

He said of the much rarer but less expensive Judd 184 variety, “I’m no math genius but how can something with a population of around 2,000 pieces cost twice as much as one with a population of 12 or so?”


Flying Eagle cent: The Flying Eagle cent is one of the shortest-lived series of United States coins, having been produced for circulation only in 1857 and 1858. How much are Flying Eagle cents worth?

Here is one of three we profile in this week’s Market Analysis that showcase the diverse collecting opportunities in this field. 

The Lot:

1858 Flying Eagle cent pattern, Judd 204, Proof 62

The Price:


The Story:

Another unusual — and rather awkward — variant of the Flying Eagle design depicts a scrawny eagle with aggressive open talons, as seen on this 1858 Small Eagle pattern cent. The reverse design is noteworthy for the ornamental shield that appears at the top between the tips of the two branches forming the wreath, which appears to be the work of Anthony C. Paquet, assistant engraver of the U.S. Mint. Paquet is best-known to collectors for his reverse design used on some 1861 Coronet double eagles with distinctive lettering featuring taller letters with prominent serifs. He joined the U.S. Mint in 1857 and would stay until 1864. 

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The copper-nickel pattern offered, Judd 204, is relatively common, with as many as 200 examples struck. The high mintage is because examples were marketed directly to collectors and a large percentage survive today.

One dollar Federal Reserve noteThe fight against the paper dollar has been renewed: Inside Coin World: Newly introduced legislation on Capitol Hill is not the first attack on the paper dollar. Calls for its elimination have been voiced since the 1970s.


This Proof 62 example is an affordable representative of obverse and reverse designs that are familiar but different in execution from what collectors expect from a Flying Eagle cent. It sold for $2,115.

Keep Reading About Brewer’s collection of Flying Eagle pattern cents:

Undated Flying Head Large centOne of the coolest pieces from Steve Brewer’s pattern cent collection doesn’t have a date: Brewer offered some lessons for collectors: look for unusual things that make a coin unique, seek out the finest known and look at true rarity, watch out for “gradeflation,” and don’t forget to have fun!

Odd planchet 1855 Flying EagleThe catalog entry suggests that the golden hue to the surfaces indicates it is oroide, a mix of copper and tin: The eagle on this Judd 169 1855 Flying Eagle pattern for a large cent has a more pronounced muscularity and curved neck when compared to James B. Longacre’s design.

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